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When you are hurt on the job in Illinois, and your doctor takes you off work (or gives you restrictions that your job can’t accommodate), you are entitled to temporary total disability benefits or TTD. This is 2/3 of your average weekly wage, tax-free. This is of course very important because this money allows you to survive while you focus on getting healthy.
Sadly, many injured workers in Illinois have to deal with shady insurance companies. They are looking for a way to not pay you your owed benefits and sometimes do it in an illegal manner. So what do you do when your check is constantly late or stops showing up without any reason?
The first thing to know is that you are not alone. This is a common insurance company tactic when it comes to IL work comp benefits. They want to frustrate you so you’ll go against your doctor’s advice and return to work before it’s safe to do so. They know that many people live paycheck to paycheck and if they squeeze you just enough that you’ll do things against your best interests. It’s a real scummy thing for them to do, but to them, it’s just business.
The way to solve this problem is for a lawyer to file what is called a 19(b) petition for an immediate hearing. It’s essentially a trial motion that says benefits are being improperly denied and allows you to jump ahead of other cases that want a trial and get before an arbitrator. While not every case needs a lawyer, when your benefits are delayed, you certainly do. And having an attorney on the case before a problem happens not only acts as a deterrent to bad behavior by the insurance company but also gets you into court faster.
When the insurance company is really acting in bad faith, we can also file what is called a petition for penalties and fees. You’ve probably heard the term “punitive damages.” This isn’t that, but it’s similar in that the insurance company can be forced to pay you extra money and your lawyer fees for acting so inappropriately.
The point is that when an insurance company is being aggressive to you, you need a lawyer in your corner who will be aggressive back. A good Illinois work injury law firm uses the law to make sure their clients don’t get taken advantage of. In fact, even just the filing of these motions is often enough to get the insurance company to back down. If they don’t, they know they’ll lose and also waste a lot of money on a defense attorney to fight a case they have no defense against.
Beyond that, when your checks are late, experienced attorneys who deal with the same insurance companies and insurance adjusters all of the time, often have relationships where an email or phone call can get results.
In sum, if your TTD checks are late, don’t panic, but also look out for yourself. There are solutions to these problems that can work for you.
I hope this helps. If you have any questions or want to speak to a lawyer, get in touch with us any time. We cover all of Illinois.