A caller to our office was pursuing a worker’ compensation claim for carpal tunnel. They had a lot of questions, but one of them was wanting to know what the odds were of them winning their case.
I get questions like that a lot about Illinois workers compensation law. The honest answer is that every case is different and that a win to some people might be a loss to someone else and might be a push to another person.
There’s one very shady Chicago workers’ compensation law firm who advertises that they’ve won 98% of their cases. That “win” total includes cases on which they recovered $500 for their clients when insurance companies just paid to make the case go away. If your medical bills aren’t paid, is that a win? Of course not, but they claim that it is.
For this caller, the only way to say they won would be if their case was disputed and went to trial. Most cases settle though. If 100% of your medical bills get paid, all of your time off work gets paid and you get a settlement for 85% of what your lawyer thinks your case is worth, would you consider that a win? Most people would, but some would not.
If your best case scenario is getting $500,000.00 and they won’t budge past $420,000.00, is that a win? It certainly could be and that’s a lot of money.
If your attorney is able to get every medical procedure your doctor recommends except one additional week of physical therapy, would you consider the case to have gone well?
What most people really want to know is if they will get most of the benefits they are entitled to. To determine the chances of that, we have to look at the case facts. How were you hurt? What possible defenses does the insurance company have? What prior medical problems did you have?
In this case, since they are claiming a repetitive trauma injury, they’d have to prove how often they used their hands at work, the force applied, the angle of their wrists and of course get an orthopedic doctor to state that more likely than not their job contributed to them getting carpal tunnel. The insurance company will surely have a hired gun IME doctor to state that it’s not work related. They will point to things like diabetes, obesity, pregnancy, etc. that could be the “real” cause.
The stronger the possible defenses, the greater a chance you either go to trial or reach a compromise settlement. Any compromise could be considered a win or loss depending on your perspective.
To me, the better strategy is to work with your lawyer to determine the best and worst case scenario on your claim. After that you try and get most of the best case scenario as possible. You almost never get everything, but the closer you are to that, the more that it will feel like a win to you in the end.