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A reader sent us the following question:

Not getting my workers compensation like I should, they owe me a lot of money still and I am getting tired of waiting for them to pay me.  I get paid every once in awhile but nothing like I should.  Wonder if I should sue because of all the issues I have had so far, fell at work, slip in a oily area that we have been complaining about for over a year, nothing really ever seemed to get done about it, my l5-s1 disk is pushing up against my sciatic nerve, have surgery august 12th so I am going to be off work for a long time.  Doctor orders are for me not to work right now.  I have been working off and on when doctors allowed me to.  Information on how to get them to get them off their butts and get me the back pay of workman’s compensation that they owe me.  I need money bad because of this accident that happened at work, wondering if I can make them pay interest since it is taking them so long and I might have to pay some interest on my credit  card because of them.  Any info would be good.

The bad news is that he’s getting jerked around.  The worse news is that you aren’t allowed to sue the insurance company when they are acting in bad faith like this.  It’s barred under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act.

The good news is that his problem is easily solvable.  He needs to hire a lawyer and they can file a 19(b) petition for immediate hearing that will get an official ruling that payment is required.  The better news is that he can file for what is called penalties and fees which will punish the insurance company for their bad behavior.  It’s not a lawsuit, but it is part of the system in Illinois.  For every day they were late, they can get fined.  For every medical bill that wasn’t paid, a 50% penalty can be applied.  All of this goes directly in to the pocket of the injured worker.

The problem is that this guy doesn’t want to be involved with attorneys.  He just wants to get healthy and get back to work.  But unfortunately insurance companies take advantage of guys like this.

So he can either get legal help, solve his problem and focus on his health or continue to be stressed and have to deal with the nonsense.  And while it’s not taught in school, the reality is that a big part of being an attorney is dealing with nonsense.  We do it every day and we know how to stop it.

It’s kind of pathetic because it would be nice if everyone would just do the right thing.  But that’s not how an insurance company makes money.  Every day they don’t pay him is more money in their pocket.  So if you want to know what to do when you are being messed with, the simple answer is that you have to look out for yourself, even if you don’t want to.

Written by Michael Helfand