How do I start a Workers’ Compensation Case?
To hire an attorney one generally begins with an initial consultation or intake appointment. Attorneys Jim Black and Tracy Jones meet with all potential clients to discuss with the injured workers his/her rights and obligations under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act as well as how Black and Jones can assist the client. In order to initiate the process the individual must sign an Attorney Representation Agreement and an Application for Adjustment of Claim.
The Attorney Representation Agreement states the fee, which is paid at settlement. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, Section 16 sets the fee at 20% of the total settlement plus any costs the law office has paid to advance the case.
Following the initial consultation appointment, the Application for Adjustment of Claim is filed with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. Once filed the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC) gives the claim a first return date, which is the first time the case, will appear on the docket. The first return date is generally one or two months after the Application for Adjustment of Claim is mailed to the IWCC. After that date the case will appear on the docket every three months until the case is concluded.
What if I can’t afford an attorney?
Your ability to pay doesn’t matter. Our legislature agreed many years ago that your ability to pay an attorney should not have anything to do with whether you are able to recover the benefits. The first consultation costs you nothing, and if you retain our office, our fee is based on the recovery in the case, so don’t worry about having to fork over money to get help.
In workers’ compensation cases, you generally do not pay any attorney’s fees up front, and our fee depends on what we recover for you. By law, we would be entitled to 20% of the benefits we recover on your behalf plus reimbursement out of the proceeds for any costs we have.
In Social Security disability cases, the fee works similarly—generally, you don’t pay anything up front. If you are awarded back benefits from Social Security, we would be entitled to 25% of those benefits subject to a maximum in cases heard up through the Appeals Council level.
Can I use my own doctor?
Yes, you have the right to choose who treats your injury! If you have been injured at work, your employer may require you to visit the company doctor and submit to a drug test. It is important to comply with both so that you do not jeopardize your job or your right to benefits, but you have no obligation be treated by the company doctor. After the initial visit with the company doctor, you should see your own doctor or visit an emergency room as soon as possible, because it is vital that every injured part be documented thoroughly from the very first visit. Make sure to report a history of how you were hurt at work and each and every body part that hurts.
What are the advantages of hiring an attorney in Rockford?
The simple answer is geography. If you live in the Rockford area and your attorney is in the Rockford area, it is easy to meet with the attorney. Chicago is a long distance away and difficult to meet with your attorney. In Rockford, most workers’ compensation cases are handled by Rockford attorneys. If the Rockford attorneys were not doing a good job, this would not be the case. I would strongly encourage you to hire locally and my office would be glad to be that local attorney.