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Injury severity has the most effect on workers' compensation payouts, not attorney fees

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The severity of injury and level of impairment — not the workers’ legal fees — have the most effect on payout for workers’ compensation claims among Illinois construction workers, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health have found. The research is published in the November issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. journals.lww.com/joem/pages/default.aspx

The study uses workers’ compensation data to quantify the actual amount of money spent on claims. The researchers identified specific factors associated with cost, such as age at the time of accident, weekly wage, fatality, attorney representation, number of body parts injured, and the severity of injury. Demographic data was also obtained for workers filing claims, including sex, marital status, number of dependents, and place of the accident.

The study evaluated 19,734 claims filed with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission between 2000 and 2005. Such claims are filed when an employee and employer are unable to resolve compensation for an injury independently. There were 1.21 construction claims per 100 Illinois construction workers. The study also found that those injured workers who had a lawyer helping them received more in compensation than those representing themselves, after controlling for all other variables. "The discussion that workers retaining attorneys are driving up costs always surprises me," said Lee Friedman, assistant research professor of environmental and occupational health sciences at UIC and lead author of the study.. "There has never been a discussion about employers retaining attorneys, which they almost always do. The discourse has always been one-sided." Indeed, the amounts an insurance company or employer can pay its lawyers is not reviewed by the Workers Compensation Commission in any state Herndon injury lawyer Doug Landau practices in and there is no limit to what these large firm lawyers can charge to defeat an injured worker or their family’s claims. This disparity in the law is almost never discussed in the press. What is worse, says Landau, is that the insurance lawyers are paid, "win, lose or draw" on an hourly basis, unlike the disabled workers lawyer, who is usually paid on a contingent fee basis, "which means they are only paid for their efforts if they win or are otherwise successful on their clients’ behalf." The insurance defense lawyers have little incentive to resolve the issues quickly and the more hours they bill, the more money they make for their law firms and themselves. this is one of the reasons that Virginia should enact laws to counter bad faith workers compensation claims handling and delay tactics. If you or someone you know has been injured in an on the job accident, e-mail us at ABRAMS LANDAU, Ltd., or call 703-796-9555 today.