Who is Covered by Workers’ Compensation in Illinois

The majority of the population depends on a healthy body just to get to and from work, and most of us rely on our health to perform our jobs correctly. When we suffer from a muscle strain, a sprain, or any other injury, our work performance takes a turn for the worst. When a person is injured simply from going about their daily duties on the job, Illinois law believes they should not be punished for it, and instead should be eligible to recover compensation. Out of this theory, the system of workers’ compensation was developed. Workers’ compensation arose from the idea that employees owe a duty to their employers to perform their jobs, and employers owe a duty to their employees to provide a safe work environment. When accidents happen, the workers’ compensation system is there to protect employees and their families.

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Who is Covered?

Just about every employee who works in Illinois is covered by this system of insurance. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act provides that if a person is employed in the State of Illinois, other than by a small family-run business, or if their employment is “centralized” in Illinois, they are covered by Illinois’ system of workers’ compensation. Any injury that arises “out of and in the course of employment” is protected under the Act. This basically means that whether you slip over a piece of equipment or strain a muscle through a repetitive motion, your injury falls under the Act.

How Do I Get Coverage?

The key to receiving coverage is reporting the injury in a timely fashion. As soon as your are medically able to give notice to your employer, you need to report the accident that led to your injury. In fact, by not reporting to your boss, you run the risk of forfeiting any right to recovery at all. The Act allows all employees a 45 day window to make their initial report to their employer; however, the sooner the better. Even if you don’t know how serious your injury is, it is better to make an initial report and then revise it later. Keep in mind that any sort of retaliation by your employer is strictly prohibited by law, which means it is better that you speak up rather than wait until the injury gets worse.

Do I Need An Attorney?

There is no requirement in Illinois that you seek legal counsel before filing a claim for workers’ compensation. However, having an advocate will serve your interests for several reasons. First, the workers’ compensation system can be complex. You can be pressured into accepting partial payment or less than you deserve simply out of fear of missing too many paychecks. Second, you will most likely need to see a doctor who works with the insurance company. This may not always work in your favor. Thus, having an attorney who understands the medicine behind the treatment is in your best interest. Third, your injury may worsen. If you accept less than you deserve now, you may be sacrificing any chance of receiving compensation if the injury worsens in the future. Without understanding exactly how seriously you have been injured or how it will affect you in the future, you may be placing your physical and financial future in jeopardy.

Don’t fight the system alone. Contact Willens Law Offices for a free consultation today. We can help ensure that you recover adequate workers’ compensation benefits while you recover from your injuries.

 

Worried About the Tough Legal Job Market? Stop Worrying. Start Networking.

Considering law school? The hard truth is that the legal job market isn’t that good. So what can you do to tip the scales in your favor?  Here’s the answer: Network!  Network often!  Then network some more!  You can increase your employability by starting to network – shaking hands, kissing babies – today.

If you start to network now, your chances of getting a job after law school increase.  It may get you your dream job.  The networking you do today may get you clients later in your career.  Heck, the networking you do today may get you everything you desire in life.

For me, networking is about client development.  The more people I meet, the more likely one of those encounters will lead to a client for my law firm.  It’s painful at times but it works.  I just wish I had known the importance of networking much earlier in my life.

A buddy of mine understood networking in college.  He participated in many of the school’s organizations.  He was the president of his fraternity.  Being with him was, and is still, like being with a celebrity.  Everyone knows him and he knows everyone.  It’s no wonder he’s a huge success in the business world.  Being like him will increase your chances of getting a job out of law school.

“But Willens, how should I network?” you ask.  “I’m not even in law school yet.  I don’t even know what kind of lawyer I want to be.  I don’t know many people.  I’m kind of shy.  I’m not good at selling myself…”

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Here are some networking recommendations I have seen work for others and myself:

    1. Get involved with your school.  Get to know your classmates and your professors and make sure they know you.

    2. If you’re religious (even a little), become active in your church or synagogue.  Get to know the congregants and make sure they know you.

    3. Join a team sport like volleyball, softball, soccer, etc.  There’s nothing that says networking can’t be fun.

    4. Get involved in community activities.

    5. Every time you meet a lawyer, ask him or her for an informational interview.  Don’t be shy.  People, especially lawyers, enjoy talking about themselves.  You may not want to practice his type of law, but you may be able to tap into his network.  I’ve gotten people jobs that have nothing to do with personal injury law.

There’s a theme here folks – the more people you know, the better off you are.  Start now and don’t stop!  You’ll be glad you did.  By the time law school is wrapping up, you’ll have a huge network of people to tap into.  Sometimes, it’s not what you know but who you know.

Happy networking!

Handling Personal Injury Cases for the Elderly

Handling a personal injury case in Chicago for an elderly person is an entirely different ball game than handling a personal injury case for someone who is younger.  I’m writing this article after having just closed out a case on behalf of one of my law firm’s elderly clients.  Taking a moment to pat my team on our collective backs, the outcome was excellent.

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We represented a woman in her 80s who tripped and fell on some construction equipment while shopping in a grocery store.  She broke her shoulder requiring surgery and rehabilitation.

In our Complaint at Law, we filed an ordinary negligence count against the construction company who was doing some work in the grocery store.  We filed a premises liability count against the grocery store.

After much litigation and a pre-trial settlement conference (ran masterfully by the Federal Judge presiding over the case), we obtained a very large six-figure settlement.  Beyond the successful settlement, I also learned an important lesson handling this case which will help me be a better injury lawyer for my elderly clients, and at the same time, learned that life is fragile.

Time is Important When Handling Personal Injury Cases for the Elderly

I signed this premises liability case up a few years ago.  The family of the elderly lady called me and asked me to meet with her at the rehabilitation center where she was.  I was glad to do so.  I went, met with the elderly lady and most of her family – they were very nice people.  I interviewed the elderly woman and felt she had a decent personal injury case that I could help her with.  She hired me.  Though she had some pain from her shoulder surgery, her mind was sound.  I didn’t feel the need to hurry her case along; in retrospect, I should have.

The Initial Plan – Pursue this Premises Liability Case as a Claim

My initial plan was to wait until treatment was done, gather her medical records and bills, then submit a demand package to the responsible insurance companies.  I firmly thought this was a case that should settle without the need for time-consuming and expensive litigation.  I’ve been in the personal injury business for two decades so my judgment is pretty good in this regard.  Well, I almost made a mistake by not rushing things along.

My client’s medical treatment went smoothly.  She was done with treatment within approximately six months after her trip and fall accident.  We ordered her medical records and bills.  That process takes about 30 – 60 days.

Once we had the records and bills, we forwarded them to the responsible insurance company.  They said they needed about 60 days to review and evaluate the case.  That is not unreasonable for a personal injury claim of this nature.  I waited patiently to hear back from the insurance company.

I did not hear back from them.  When 60 days passed, I called and was told something along the lines of “we have a meeting tomorrow regarding this case and will get back to you within a week or two.”  Of course, they would not get back to me, at least with any settlement authority.

When I did speak with them, they just made excuses of why they haven’t been able to make me an offer.  I considered that they might be waiting for my client to pass on, therefore destroying her personal injury claim.  I hated thinking like that but I did work for an insurance company previously; it doesn’t take months and months to evaluate and negotiate a legitimate claim.

Eventually, I was forced to file a lawsuit.  I did this despite the fact that this was a straightforward case that, in my opinion, didn’t need to be litigated.

Time for Litigation

Litigation moved forward at the usual pace.  The defense seemed to move slowly but, in my mind, they always do.  As the case moved along, my client’s condition began to deteriorate.  She was diagnosed with dementia and that lively independent woman I met months ago was going downhill fast.

When it came time for her deposition – her time to give sworn testimony, her doctors and I felt she would be able to tell the truth.  She wouldn’t remember everything but being questioned by the defense lawyers would not be harmful to her health either.  Her deposition proceeded.

She did O.K. under the circumstances but the defense lawyers clearly saw that her condition was not good.  It appeared as if her days on this planet were limited.  As human beings, I like think the defense attorneys were empathetic to her cause.  However, as defense lawyers, I couldn’t help but think they saw this as a way to save some money for the insurance companies who paid the bills.

They knew that if my client passed, her case would be essentially worthless.  All of the sudden, they wanted to slow the already slow pace down some more.

I think that was the defense’s tactic – delay things until this woman was no longer with us.  It disgusted me.  As such, I convinced the Federal Judge to put this case on a fast track.  The Judge agreed despite the defense attorneys’ protest.

The case eventually settled. My client still has time to enjoy the monetary proceeds of that settlement.  She was able to use the funds to move to a much nicer nursing home where she will live out her days in peace, surrounded by family and friends.

Time is of the Essence when Handling Injury Cases for the Elderly

I learned from this case that, when handling personal injury cases for elderly persons, time is of the essence.  Aging is sometimes harsh and diseases associated with the elderly, such as dementia, can strike without warning.  It is important to move these cases quickly so my elderly clients get the compensation they deserve, like everyone who suffers a personal injury.  I also learned that life is precious.  This case caused me to reflect on my relationship with my elderly mother, who I owe everything to. I call and visit her more often because of the lessons I learned representing this case.

If you or someone you love is elderly and was injured in an accident, please call Willens Law Offices.  We will treat you with respect and kindness.