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Jim Schlicher

SWAT Commander Injured on the Job

Jim Schlicher worked for the last two decades for the Westmont Village Police Department, in suburban Chicago. Compared to all the dangerous work Jim performed as a SWAT team commander, such as stand-offs, shoot-outs, barricades, busts and negotiations, a training obstacle course with running and shooting with an AR-15 rifle at targets was routine.

Suddenly, in the middle of the course, Jim felt his thigh muscle snap. He recognized a hamstring pull when he felt one. In addition to being a SWAT team commander, he was a triathlete and a personal trainer with the Police Academy.

This was an on-the-job injury. The Village staff sent him to the local doctor, who diagnosed the injury as a pulled muscle, and it was treated over the next weeks as such. After a month of treatment, he did not get any better.

Jim knew he would need coverage for physical therapy, so he began filing for Workers’ Compensation. But there were many confusing steps he had to go through. He felt like he was jumping through bureaucratic hoops for months and yet he was not getting any results. Worse, he suffered in severe pain every day and had been hobbling around and icing for two months.

Finally, the doctor ordered an MRI to confirm the diagnosis. The test showed that he had not pulled his hamstring but sustained a much more severe injury. It turned out that he had a torn labrum and had significant degeneration of his femur head. As a result, Jim was going to need a hip replacement.

Jim’s spirits sank low. His triathlons came and went, his running days were over and perhaps his working days as well. Unfortunately, he had no way to pay bills if he could not work. More hoops to jump through! “They wanted me to burn my sick time and use up my benefits to go to therapy,” he said.

He could not believe it. “I’d already wasted months of trying to figure out what the heck was wrong. I did not have a lawyer, so I was handling everything on my own.” Finally, getting nowhere, he said “I just got tired of dealing with the paperwork.”

A fellow SWAT team officer referred him to Ryan Theriault at a Chicago area law firm, specializing in workers’ compensation cases for police officers, to help him expedite his workers’ compensation case. Ryan turned out to be the perfect lawyer for Jim, because he was back on the job in 12 weeks and headed toward a fair settlement of his workers’ comp claim. When Ryan and his legal team took over, all the bureaucratic delays he had experienced vanished.

“Immediately, Ryan and his legal team, became the direct link between me, the insurance carrier and my treatment,” said Jim. “They made sure the bills got paid.”

Jim’s case is not unusual. Many clients who first try to do it themselves experience many stall tactics which can delay medical treatment, add years to the payment of a claim, or worse yet, result in permanent denial. Ryan’s team has already dealt with many of these types of cases and knows how to cut through the red tape of Workers’ Comp.

Unfortunately, Jim was unable to complete a mandatory running test because of the hip replacement. This resulted in him having to give up his position as SWAT team commander; a decision he still feels was unfair. He is now back to full duty with the police department but is quick to voice his disappointment that he has been unable to return to SWAT.

“It doesn’t matter what I’m doing now,” he said. “I can’t do the jobs I did before. I miss everything about my old job, such as the action, adrenaline rush and the teamwork.”

Overall, though, Jim said “he could not be happier” with how his legal team helped him recover compensation for his injury. He particularly praises his attorney, Ryan Theriault.

“Ryan told me what he thought reasonable closure would be on this case financially, and the result was right where he thought it would be,” Jim said. “Ryan Theriault is definitely a police and fire attorney. He has a lot of family in law enforcement and understands my work is not a 9-to-5 job. He understands the commitments to the career.”

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