Work Injury and Personal Injury
Accidents happen every day. Whether at work or in public places, injuries to innocent people can occur. Read on to learn more about pursuing monetary damages following an accident that has left you or your family member with a long term or permanent injury.
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When a worker in Illinois is injured in the course of his or her employment, his or her employer by law has certain obligations toward that injured worker.
First: The employer is obligated to pay for the medical treatment and medications necessary to heal the injured worker and relieve the pain associated with the injuries.
Second: The employer is obligated to pay 66 2/3% of the injured workers average wage for the time that he or she is unable to work as a result of the injury. This can be thought of as lost income.
Third: Once the injured worker is healed, and returns to work, the employer is obligated to pay him or her a sum of money to compensate him or her for the loss of use of the injured body part. This can be thought of as loss of future income.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need an attorney?
Most employers will pay medical expenses and 66 2/3% of wages during periods of disability to an injured worker without an attorney. The attorney is needed in cases involving more serious injuries where compensation for permanency is in order.
How much time do I have to file a formal claim?
The time within which a claim must be filed is two to three years depending on how long the worker was off of work due to the injury and how long the medical treatment lasted. It is best to file as soon as possible.
What does the attorney do?
The attorney determines when, where, and how the injury occurred. He then makes sure the employer has notice of the injury as soon as possible but not more than 45 days after the injury. The attorney then acts as a “go between” for all communications between the employer and the injured worker. This allows the attorney to make sure the worker is getting all treatment that is necessary and proper, and where applicable, the 66 2/3% of his or her average wage.
Then when the worker returns to work and reaches maximum medical improvement, the attorney begins negotiations with the employer to arrive at a fair and reasonable amount of money to settle the employer’s obligation to compensate the worker for the permanency associated with his or her injury.
How much does it cost and how is the attorney paid ?
The attorney works on a contingent fee of 20% of the amount recovered. This means that the injured worker does not have to pay anything unless and until the case is successfully concluded. The 20% usually applies to the money paid to the worker to settle the permanency aspect of his or her claim. Only if the employer disputes the worker’s right to some portion of the medical expense, or 66 2/3% of his or her average wage during a period of disability, the 20% may apply to money recovered on those aspects of the claim. In other words the amount the employer voluntarily pays for medical and disability are not subject to the attorney’s 20% fee.
Can I get fired or demoted for initiating a worker’s compensation claim?
No, the Illinois Worker’s Compensation Act specifically prohibits any such action by an employer in retaliation for initiating a Worker’s Compensation claim. The worker acting with an attorney in pursuit of his or her claim has the best chance of affording him or herself the full protection of the ACT.
When injuries to innocent people involve long term, or permanent disability or even death. The law provides that any person or business entity that causes an accident, either by careless action, or neglect, must compensate (pay money damages) to any innocent person who suffers an injury as a result of such an accident. There are three major categories of damages that must be monetarily compensated:
1. Medical expense: Any diagnosis or treatment that is necessary for the relief of pain, and the healing of a given injury.
2. Lost income: Any lost wages or earnings resulting from an injured persons inability to work due to a given injury.
3. Pain and suffering: When a person experiences pain and suffering from an injury due to the careless action or neglect of a person or business entity. There are other less common categories of damages that must also be compensated with dollars when they are the result of an accident.
4. Loss of a normal life: When a person is unable to do certain things, not related to earning income, but otherwise an important part of their normal life, such as participating in a sport or hobby, or even driving a car, as a result of an injury.
5. Loss of companionship: When a person loses a loved one such as a parent, spouse, or child as a consequence of a debilitating injury or death resulting from an injury.
The personal injury attorney needs three things to pursue monetary compensation on behalf of a client:
1. A serious injury: There is no minimum dollar amount of medical expense or other objective test to determine whether an injury is serious enough to warrant pursuing a claim or a lawsuit. This is determined on a case-by-case basis considering the injury itself and other circumstances.
2. Liability: This means that the injury was caused by the careless action or neglect of some other person or entity. Some injuries are caused by things other than careless action or neglect by another, such as, lightening, high wind or other natural occurrences. Other injuries can be caused by the injured person’s own carelessness. In cases like these, there is no person or entity that can be held liable for the damages.
3. Deep pockets: In cases where the first two things are present, a serious injury, and liability the attorney needs a source of funds from which compensation can be obtained.
For example, in a case where there is a serious injury resulting from an automobile collision, where there is clear liability and the party at fault has insurance all three things are present. On the other hand if the injury is minor, or there is no insurance, or there is no clearly negligent act or omission that caused the injury, the attorney does not have everything he needs to recover monetary compensation.
Whenever there is a serious injury, the attorney will use his experience, ingenuity, and tenacity to find a viable theory of liability against a person or entity with sufficient funds to pay money damages. Paul C. Sheils has been doing just that since 1973.