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Workers' Compensation Settlements (How Much is Your Case Worth?)

Money From Workers CompIf you are injured on the job in Illinois, you are entitled to three primary types of workers' compensation benefits ulcer the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act including: 1) medical treatment for your injuries, 2) supportive weekly benefit payments while you are unable to work due to your injuries and 3) a lump sum payment based on the extent your injuries and resulting permanency.

When most injured workers discuss the 'value of their workers comp case' they are referring to the lump sum payment that is paid at the end of their medical treatment when they have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) by their treating doctor.

At that point, their case is positioned for a settlement payment from the insurance company for their employer. The settlements typically come in the form of a 'lump sum award' but they can also be made in the form of a structured settlement.

While most injured workers are capable of returning to their original position after they have recovered from their injuries, some injured workers have severe injuries which prevent them from going back to their original position. In these situations, Illinois workers compensation law provides for:

  • Wage Differential Claim: Where the injured employee is capable of working to some extent, but not in the position or for the wages that they were in at the time they were injured.
  • Permanent Total Disability: In situations where a personal has severe injuries that prevent him or her from any employment, they are entitled to ongoing disability benefits.

How Lump Sum Worker's Comp Settlements Are Calculates in Illinois

The lump sum payments are calculated based upon the extent of your disability related to work-related injury and how much money you were making at the time of your injury. In Illinois, there is a fixed schedule of body parts that establish the maximum value for your injury. (See chart below)
DisfigurementOn or after 06/28/2011
Thumb 76
First (index) finger 43
Second (middle) finger 38
Third (ring) finger 27
Fourth (little) finger 22
Great toe 38
Each other toe 13
Hand 205
Carpal tunnel due to repetitive trauma 28.5 - 57
Arm 253
Amputation above elbow 270
Amputation at shoulder joint 323
Foot 167
Leg 215
Amputation above knee 242
Amputation at hip joint 296
Eye 162
Enucleationn of eye 173
Hearing loss of one ear (under WC Act) 54
Hearing loss of both ears (under WC Act) 215
Testicle – 1 54
Testicle – 2 162

Using evidence from medical records and/or treating doctor testimony, the extent of worker's disability from the injury can be calculated.

For example, if a worker suffers a serious injury to their arm, the most money they could receive is 253 weeks multiplied by 60% of their average weekly wage (permanent partial disability rate).
Assuming the worker made $1,000 per week, the maximum lump-sum settlement they could recover for their arm injury is $151,800 ($1,000 x .6 = $600 x 253). Similarly, if the injury isn't as severe and they have a 20% loss of use of their arm they would get a payout of $30,360 [$1,000 x .6 = $600 x 50.6 weeks (253 x .2)].

Once the proposed settlement agreement has been agreed to by the employer's insurer, the settlement is memorialized in a settlement contract and reviewed by the arbitrator to whom the case is assigned to ensure there is a fair settlement. Once a case is settled, the matter is closed and cannot be revisited in the future.

Insurance Companies Defending Workers Compensation Settlements

While the above illustration of a settlement process may appear to be relatively straight forward, you may be thinking about why you would need a workers' compensation attorney for your case. There is no legal requirement that you do so.

However, you should bear in mind that most workers compensation settlements are disputed in some respect by the insurance carrier. Most frequently, the dispute is related to the nature and extent of the injury.  

Workers compensation insurance carriers can request that you submit to a medical examination by one of their retained doctors who will likely suggest that your injuries are more minor than you claim them to be.

While this happens fairly frequently, having a workers comp lawyer who represents your interests can be comforting and ensure that the insurance carrier is not taking advantage of you.

How A Workers Comp Settlement Differ from a Personal Injury Claim

If you are injured on the job in Illinois, your sole remedy is workers compensation-- unless you can establish that a 'third-party' (not your employer) caused your injury.

There are two main differences between a personal injury claim and a workers' compensation claim. The first difference is that when you bring a personal injury case, you must establish liability, or prove that the defendant's negligence caused your accident and subsequent injuries. Workers' compensation law in Illinois is not fault based, so there is no issue as to liability aspects of a case.

The second difference between personal injury and workers' compensation law is that in a personal injury claim you can recover compensation for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering.  

In Illinois, there is no cap or limit on the amount of non-economic damages that you can recover. Unfortunately, workers compensation law, pain and suffering is not an element of recoverable damages.

Have More Questions About Illinois Workers Comp Settlements or Case Results?

The work comp lawyers at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers have experience negotiating work comp cases for injured employees across Illinois. All of our cases are handled on a contingency fee basis where we only receive a legal fee when we are successful in getting a recovery for you. Contact our law firm today for a free consultation and evaluation of your legal rights and options.

Workers’ Compensation Lung Injury Claim: Sample Settlements

2010; Illinois; $17,870,000 Lung Injury Jury Award:

This was a very contentious case. A 65-year-old woman sued her employer and manufacturers that worked for them. She argued that they conspired and concealed from her the dangers related to asbestos exposure.

Interestingly, she worked in office administration and not construction, maintenance or any other field commonly associated with asbestos exposure. Nonetheless, she developed mesothelioma due to contact and proximity with it. The defendants retorted that there was no conspiracy, and her injuries were unrelated. The jury disagreed.

They returned a $17,870,000 for the woman for the following damages:
  • Compensatory: $3,500,000
  • Punitive: $14,370,000
  • Total: $17,870,000
2015; Illinois; $971,700 Lung Injury Settlement:

The victim in this was a pipe fitter and insulator for almost twenty years. At the young age of 42, his doctors diagnosed him with peritoneal mesothelioma and told him it was the result of exposure to asbestos.

He sued his employers as well as the makers of the materials that contained asbestos. In total, all of the defendants settled with him for $971,700.

Workers’ Compensation Amputation Claims: Sample Settlements

2015; Illinois; $1,800,000 Amputation Settlement:

A young man, just under thirty years old, was driving a drill rig when hit power lines immediately above his vehicle. The crash sent volts through the rig and electrocuted him almost instantly.

He sustained burns all over his body, severe eye damage, and an injury to his left leg that required a below-the-knee amputation. He brought claims against the power company, rig manufacturer, and his employer for these injuries. The combined group of defendants paid a total of $1,800,000 to him for this incident with about $300,000 of that coming from his employer for workers’ compensation charges.

2005; Illinois; $2,350,000 Amputation Settlement:

This accident took place in a machine parts factory. A man in his middle forties was working on a machine when he stepped away from it for a moment. Apiece of steel whipped out of the machine and severed his arm right above the elbow.

Due to this, he needed an amputation. In the subsequent suit, he alleged medical bills of almost $100,000 and lost wages of almost $150,000. He sued the manufacturer as well as his employer and argued that they were negligent in the design of the machine, warnings of the machine, training him, and supervising him.

He also sought money under workers’ compensation. The defendants replied that his injuries were exaggerated. Also, they said that he was contributorily negligent by stepping away from the machine without turning it off and not following the machine’s instructions. Prior to trial, all sides settled for $2,350,000 that included a $596,815 workers’ compensation lien.

Workers’ Compensation Carpal Tunnel Claims: Sample Settlements

2014, Illinois: $1,700,000 Carpal Tunnel Lawsuit Settlement

The plaintiff in this case was a veteran of a railroad company for more than ten years. His suit brought under the Federal Employees Liability Act, suggested that the nature of his work degraded his health.

He presented testimony from doctors that illustrated that he had carpal tunnel syndrome, herniated discs, and canal stenosis in his spine. For these injuries, he sought damages. The defendant met these allegations with some of his own including contributory negligence and statute of limitations.
The plaintiff passed all of the procedural hurdles that his opponent threw at him, but they could not substantively agree on the extent of his injuries, so they went to trial.

The jury found that the workplace did contribute to his injuries, including carpal tunnel syndrome, and awarded him $1,700,000 for the following damages:

  • Medical: $40,000
  • Lost Wages: $1,050,000
  • Disability: $170,000
  • Pain and Suffering: $170,000
  • Emotional Distress: $340,000
  • Total: $1,700,000

2012, Illinois: $1,100,047 Carpal Tunnel Injury Jury Award

A machinist was going about his day at work when he suddenly fell off of the elevator he was riding. He sustained a broken wrist, traumatic arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and extensive nerve damage. He sued his employer pursuant to the Federal Employees Liability Act for failing to provide a safe work environment.

In particular, the suit alleged that they should have placed handrails and other protections on the elevator. The defendant denied that they did anything wrong and stated that the plaintiff’s injuries were only temporary.

The dispute proceeded to trial, where the jury found for the plaintiff in the following fashion:

  • Medical: $71,400
  • Lost Wages: $558,647
  • Pain and Suffering: $460,000
  • Compensatory: $10,000
  • Total: $1,100,047

Workers’ Compensation Wrongful Death Claims: Sample Settlements

2012; Illinois; $95,000 Wrongful Death Settlement:

The man at the center of this drama was a heating and air conditioning worker for a company. He was going around and conducting various tasks when he slipped and fell down a ladder.

He died from complications relating to these injuries. His wife brought a claim against the company for benefits. She claimed that they should have kept the environment in a better condition, trained him better, and given him more assistance.

They denied all of these charges and, instead, offered to pay the decedent’s family almost $100,000. The plaintiffs accepted this figure and the matter never went to trial.

2004; Illinois; $2,664,636 Wrongful Death Settlement:

A plumber in his mid-forties was taking down scaffolding six stories up when he accidentally slipped and fell. He died upon impact. He was survived by a wife and three kids.

They sued his employer as well as two other defendants (the contractors who erected the scaffolding). The employer did not have much of an argument because the decedent died on the job, but the other two defendants claimed that the victim was contributorily negligent.

To this, the plaintiffs replied that the defendants negligently erected the scaffold, and the employer created an unsafe workplace. The defendants came up with a combined settlement amount of $2,664,636 and the plaintiffs agreed to withdraw their case in acceptance of it.

Workers’ Compensation Spinal Injury Claims: Sample Settlements

2015; Will County, Illinois; 15 I.W.C.C. 0468:

Here, a 49-year-old carpenter was working with another employee building a scaffold. The task required him to lift a pan almost 50 pounds and pass it to his coworker. This injured him greatly when he attempted to complete it.

His shoulder and spine were seriously damaged. After undergoing an MRI, doctors informed him that he had spondylosis and bulging discs from C3-C7 along his spine. At the time of the commission’s decision, surgery was still being considered but they had already performed spinal injection therapy and initiated rehabilitative care.

The commission found that he had temporary and permanent total disabilities and awarded him the following amounts:

  • $1,243.000/week for 73.72 weeks for temporary total disability benefits.
  • $1,243.000/week for life for permanent and total disability benefits.
  • $1,243.00/week for 89.29 weeks for maintenance benefits.
  • $19,284.23 for medical expenses.

2014; Cook County, Illinois; 14 I.W.C.C. 0865:

This dispute involved a 41-year-old assembly worker at Ford Motor Company. Specifically, he was a member of the rear-suspension group. This required him to work nearly all day on his feet moving objects into and out of new cars.

One day at work, he felt pain in his back, so his managers sent him home for the weekend. When he returned, he could not bend over, twist, or even stand that much. Doctors confirmed that he had a herniated disc at the L4-5 region of his spine.

The worker contended this was a result of his employment and brought a workers’ compensation claim with the Illinois Commission. In addition to medical benefits, the man received the following for his permanent and temporary disabilities:

  • $746.67 per week for 79-1/7 weeks for temporary total disability benefits.
  • $664.72 per week for 125 weeks for permanent partial disability benefits. This represented a 25% loss of his person as a whole.
  • $14.303.72 for medical expenses.

Workers’ Compensation Arm and Leg Injury Claims: Sample Settlements

2014; McHenry County, Illinois; 14 I.W.C.C. 0749:

This This commission decision involved a 37-year-old medical worker. She worked as a lab assistant. She tripped and fell while holding several test tubes. The fall injured her arm and punctured her hand. She filed a workers’ compensation claim with the IWCC.

  • $512.26 per week for 41-4/7 weeks for temporary total disability benefits.
  • $460.80 per week for 300 weeks for permanent partial disability benefits. This represented a 60% loss of her hand and body function.
  • $21,802.12 for medical expenses.

2014; Winnebago County, Illinois; 14 I.W.C.C. 0753:

A 52-year-old factory employee worked in the compression department. He operated with a number of pumps, compressors, and maintenance systems. Due to the nature of the work, he began to experience pain in his hands.

The pain woke him up in the middle of the night. It included numbness, tingling, and sharp aches. Doctors diagnosed him with carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands/wrists. It came from his work. He testified to this point at the IWCC. The IWCC considered his remarks. It awarded him permanent and temporary benefits:

  • $727.12 per week for 3-3/7 weeks for temporary total disability benefits.
  • $619.97 per week for 51-1/4 weeks for permanent partial disability benefits. This represented a 12.5% loss of function in her right and left hand.
  • $9,749.75 for medical expenses.

Workers’ Compensation Back, Neck, and Shoulder Injury Claims: Sample Settlements

2015: Cook County, Illinois; 15 I.W.C.C. 0218

The employee in this case was a police officer who worked for the city of Park Ridge. One day at work, his manager instructed him to move some heavy filing cabinets. In the process of doing this, he injured his dominant hand and shoulder. The injuries required surgery to both affected areas as well as rehabilitative care.

Eventually, he was able to return to work at the same salary, but only in a modified capacity. He filed a claim with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, and they awarded him permanent disability benefits (not temporary because he was compensated in the interim period):

  • $664.72 per week for 50 3/5 weeks for permanent partial disability benefits due to a 20% loss of function in the affected arm/elbow
  • $664.72 per week for 60 weeks for permanent partial disability benefits due to a 12% loss of function in the affected shoulder

2007: LaSalle County, Illinois; 04 I.W.C.C. 41351

This dispute involved a 41-year-old mason at a high school. He had to construct a scaffold, so he began putting the pieces together. The individual pieces weighed more than 100 pounds each.

Unfortunately, one got stuck between two others, and while he tried to remove it, he hurt his neck and shoulder. He felt tingling and spasms in the affected areas. To address these injuries, he was forced to undergo multiple surgeries as well as a program of rehabilitative treatment. He was temporarily disabled for almost a year, and when he returned, he could only do light and sedentary work.

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission gave him the following benefits:

  • $584.87 per week for 139 2/7 weeks for temporary total disability benefits
  • $526.38 per week for 370 weeks for permanent partial disability benefits. This represented a 74% loss of function to his body as a whole (combined loss of shoulder, neck, and other injuries).
  • $46,905.53 for medical expenses

Workers’ Compensation Eye Injury Claims: Sample Settlements

2014; Cook County, Illinois; 09 I.W.C.C. 034494:

A young man was at the center of this accident. He was a 21-year-old construction worker helping to set up a work site when a wheelbarrow tire exploded. Shrapnel from that explosion flew into his right eye and injured him badly.

He was immediately rushed to the emergency room for care where they got the situation under control. However, even after this treatment, he still suffered from headaches and light sensitivity. He was able to return to work but with moderate difficulties. After hearing his case, the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission awarded him the following benefits:

  • $300 per week for 16.2 weeks for permanent partial disability benefits. This represented a 10% loss of function to his right eye.

2008; McLean County, Illinois; 06 I.W.C.C. 12253:

The worker involved in this accident was a 53-year-old man. He was an assembly worker at Mitsubishi. One day, while working on the line, he felt some of the byproduct of the machines he was putting together land in his right eye.

It was at this moment that he began to feel significant pain. He sought medical care and doctors determined that he had retinal detachment in the affected eye and performed surgery to correct the injury. Despite a successful operation, the employee still found that he had difficulty directly seeing out of the right eye, lacked much peripheral vision with it, and had a hard time making out shapes or depths.

He brought a claim before the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission and they gave him the following benefits:

  • $799.47 per week for 11-1/7 weeks for temporary total disability benefits.
  • $534.16 per week for 75 weeks for permanent partial disability benefits. This represented a 50% loss of function to his right eye.
  • All past and future necessary medical expenses.

Workers’ Compensation Nose and Ear Injury Claims: Sample Settlements

2006; Sangamon County, Illinois; 06 I.W.C.C. 047420:

Temployee in this matter was a brave member of the SWAT division within the local sheriff’s office. The incident occurred when he was training with his fellow employees.

Without realizing it, his sound protection fell out of his ears. Then, just a few inches behind him, a coworker shot his gun. The blast of the weapon sent pain through his ear. He sought medical attention immediately after this incident. While doctors were able to reduce much of the swelling, he still suffered from prolonged ringing in his ears.

However, he was able to promptly return to his former position. Still, he brought a workers’ compensation claim to receive benefits and reimbursement for medical expenses.

  • $619.97 per week for 30 weeks for permanent partial disability benefits. This represented a 6% loss of function to the affected ear.
  • All past and future necessary medical expenses.

2007; Sangamon County, Illinois; 06 I.W.C.C. 047420:

The claimant in this case was a 40-year-old male carpenter. A steel bar slammed into his face and injured his nose while also sending shooting pain throughout his head and ears.

Doctors identified a nasal fracture, sinal cyst, and other related injuries. Surgeons recommended and performed endoscopic sinus surgery. After an extended period of time, he was able to return to work but could not perform the same type of labor-intensive activities; rather; he was forced to limit himself to light work.

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission decided the following benefits were appropriate:

  • $812.53 per week for 134-5/7 weeks for temporary total disability benefits.
  • $5,161.42 for medical, physical therapy, transportation, and other expenses.

Illinois Workers’ Compensation Lawyers That Can Help You Get the Maximum Settlement You Are Entitled to.

If you suffered a work injury on the job in Chicago or anywhere else in Illinois, please call our offices. We have an experienced group of workers' compensation attorneys that can assist you immediately.

Our lawyers can make sure you don’t miss out on a dime of recovery you are entitled to under the workers' compensation system. Contact us today to learn more about what you can collect. We are second to none in experience, resources, and most importantly, commitment. Let us unleash that for you.

You won’t pay us anything if we do not win! Give us a call today!

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Jonathan did a great job helping my family navigate through a lengthy lawsuit involving my grandmother's death in a nursing home. Through every step of the case, Jonathan kept my family informed of the progression of the case. Although our case eventually settled at a mediation, I really was impressed at how well prepared Jonathan was to take the case to trial. Lisa