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One question I occasionally like to ask is what is something that is well known by Illinois work comp attorneys that their clients don’t know. There is a lot that could go on that list, but near the top would be that you don’t have to settle your case, and sometimes you shouldn’t.
While an insurance company doesn’t have to make a settlement offer, they can almost always be forced to. If they don’t, you take your case to trial and assuming you win, you get paid that way. In most cases, we recommend that clients settle because it’s usually more money, quicker, and a sure thing.
But that doesn’t mean you should settle or want to. If your lawyer thinks your case is worth $75,000.00, and they are only offering $50,000.00, it’s likely worth it to go to trial and get that extra $25,000.00. If there are a bunch of medical bills not being paid and you can prove they are reasonable and related to your work injury, going to trial might be the best option.
And there is the best reason to go to trial that too many lawyers don’t discuss with their clients. In Illinois workers’ compensation claims, if you go to arbitration and win, you keep your medical rights open for life as relates to that injury. If you had a fusion not settling might be a good idea. If you had a knee replacement, you might want to keep your medical rights open. You can get compensation for future medical care when settling too, but in some claims, you want to go to trial just to be safer.
The bottom line is that the power is yours and the decision should be yours. Your lawyer should lay out the pros and cons of arbitration and settling. They should make a recommendation, even a strong one, but at the end of the day, it’s your case, your life, and your call.
Shockingly, a lot of law firms will tell their clients that they won’t go to trial and say settling is the only option. I get why some lazy lawyers don’t want to do the work, but that’s their job and why you hired them. It’s not like a work comp case lasts for weeks. At most it’s two doctor depositions and then a day of your testimony. If they don’t want to do this work they should find a new line of work.