At the Law Offices of Millon and Peskin, few things are more frustrating than learning about an injured worker who has not received the help they need for their injuries. As experts in workers’ compensation, we know how vital these benefits are for preserving the health, wellness, and financial stability of those who have been hurt or sickened at work. But often, without professional legal assistance, their claims are denied or their benefits insufficient. When an injured worker does not obtain the legal help he or she requires, we ask ourselves, “Why?” And we try to understand what we could have done to ensure more of these workers are getting the help they deserve. Though the causes can be number and complex, often such workers fail to seek assistance due to three main areas of concern:
If you asked the average worker today if he or she feels safe at their workplace, the answer is usually “Yes”. Even for those who work in more hazardous jobs, such as construction and mining, we often believe that we are less likely to be injured on-the-job today than in the past. The reality is, however, that despite increasing awareness of workplace hazards and advancements in safety technology, the number of workers injured, sickened or killed annually is staggering. A May 2012 article by Jim Morris for The Center for Public Integrity gave this chilling statistic: in 2009 alone, more Americans were killed on the job than in the entire nine-years of the Iraq war.
When a worker in Illinois is injured on the job, he or she often is eligible to file for workers’ compensation benefits. State law in Illinois requires most employers to provide such coverage for their eligible employees. But as we explored in a recent article, the reality is that sadly some employers’ flout the law. Whether they allow coverage to lapse, never obtained coverage, or simply fail to pay awarded benefits, injured workers are the ones who suffer the most. Such workers, however, may not be without justice or options. As discussed in a previous article, employers in violation of the law may be fined and even jailed for failure to provide coverage. More importantly, such employers make themselves vulnerable to expensive lawsuits. While the Workers’ Compensation Act sheilds employers in most cases from lawsuits by injured workers, noncompliance may negate this protection. As such, employees may be able to seek a far greater amount for their injuries than would otherwise have been paid out by workers’ compensation coverage. Another possible option for workers without coverage, and the subject of this article, is the Illinois’ Injured Workers’ Benefit Fund.
For a worker, a job-related injury often makes them aware of how little they know about their rights. Not until they are hurt do many employees realize that what they’ve assumed about their benefits may not be entirely accurate. It’s often a shock to find that coverage and care for their injuries is hard to achieve, limited in scope, and at times, nonexistent. There are many aspects to the workers’ compensation system with which all employees should familiarize themselves. However, the most essential is this: does your employer carry workers’ compensation insurance? For Illinois workers, the good news is that most employers are required by law to carry some form of workers’ compensation insurance. Very few exemptions exist for employers to not provide their employees with coverage. But the truth remains, not all business owners comply with the law. It’s distressing for an employee who is injured on the job to find out too late that their employer has failed to obtain or maintain their coverage. Fortunately, the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission provides guidance and assistance for workers whose employers are in noncompliance.
If you’ve been injured at work, you likely know your best hope for winning workers’ compensation benefits is to hire an attorney. Your check-list for choosing legal representation is generally clear. You want a lawyer with extensive experience with your state’s laws, who has a proven track-record of success, and with whom you feel comfortable working. But for some injured workers, their needs may extend beyond just a workers’ compensation attorney. Some on-the-job injuries involving a third-party may actually also fall under the heading of “personal injury”. And for such workers, choosing an attorney who is experienced in practicing both areas of law is crucial to the success of their case.
What is defined as a successful relationship between an attorney and their client? It’s clear that ultimately your goal in hiring an attorney is to win your case. So it may seem that your best bet is to seek out a “win at all costs” attorney, who promises to do anything and everything to win your case. But unfortunately, complaints are legion from clients of such lawyers, who not only often failed to achieve the results their client are promised or satisfied with, but who also made life miserable in the process. A winning conclusion to your case is vital, but it is only part of what makes it successful. So what, then, is considered a successful attorney-client relationship?
For an injured worker seeking to win their workers’ compensation claim, having an attorney is often the best tool at their disposal. However, it’s not just important to have an attorney, but to have the best attorney most suited to your needs. Finding such an attorney requires asking important questions of any you are considering hiring. Previously, in part one of this article, we discussed some basic questions involving background and experience. In this section, we will explore both practical and philosophical concerns you should discuss when interviewing an attorney. Remember: researching and screening all potential legal representatives will better ensure the success of your case.
If you’ve been injured at work, you have probably learned the hard way that receiving the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve will be difficult. As a result, you’ve probably realized fairly quickly that you need the assistance of an attorney. Having legal representation greatly increases your chances of winning your claim for benefits. But knowing you need an attorney is just the first step. The second, and most important step, is choosing the attorney most qualified to represent you. Just because a lawyer is willing to take your case does not mean he or she is the best fit for your needs. Therefore, it’s vital when considering an attorney to ask some important questions.
If you stop to think of the many ways we have to communicate with others, it can be staggering to realize how much this ability has grown over just a few decades. Not so long ago, tiny, pocket-size communication devices were literally a thing of science fiction. Today, a person who doesn’t have a cell phone is considered unusual. Those who once had to wait days or weeks to receive news of loved ones, now just log on to a social media site or blog. Why wait in line to talk to a representative at your bank when you can chat with them online instantly from your couch? And yet, it almost feels like the more ways we have to connect, the less communicating we actually do. Or perhaps it’s simply that with so many ways to easily reach out to others, someone’s failure to do so becomes even more apparent and frustrating.
Many injured workers struggle to receive the workers’ compensation benefits they deserve. As a result, many seek assistance from an attorney who can fight for their rights. But how do you know which lawyer you should choose to represent you? To better ensure your success, look for these five qualities when choosing your workers’ compensation attorney.