You probably know the story of The Boy Who Cried Wolf. He kept on yelling wolf when there wasn’t one and when finally a wolf did appear, nobody came to help because no one believed him.
I think of that story a lot in regard to Illinois workers’ compensation claims. There are plenty of times when you get hurt on the job, but that doesn’t mean that you should file a claim for anything beyond medical treatment. We don’t take on cases for contusions or mild sprains and it’s probably not in your best interest to do so either. I reviewed a case once where a client had filed more than 10 cases in a seven year period, none of which involved anything serious. When I reviewed the case (which we did not pursue), the caller had a serious shoulder injury. The case was being denied and even though he probably did hurt himself on the job, the caller had a fight on his hands because he had a reputation of always getting injured. That raises red flags, especially when many of the injuries are difficult to prove.
Compare that to my favorite type of caller, the hard working laborer who in 20 years has never filed a workers’ compensation claim. Sure they’ve hurt themselves, but they get through it with ice and Advil or minor medical care. The last thing they want to do is call a lawyer, but now they have a real serious injury and realize that they need help. If that case gets disputed and we have to go to a trial to win benefits, that client is going to look great on a witness stand as their lack of bringing claims makes them look credible. On the flip side, when you appear to make a career out of filing work comp cases, it makes you look bad even if you are being honest.
I often tell my children when they fall down that they have to know the difference between being hurt and being injured. Getting hurt means that it’s a temporary problem that is going to get better soon. Being injured requires real help. I don’t want my older son to cry if he scrapes his knee. On the other hand if he breaks his leg, bring on the waterfall of tears.
Same thing for clients. Just because you fell down doesn’t mean you need to file a case. And if you do file a case when you don’t really have an injury, don’t be surprised if one day when you really are injured if the insurance company and Judge look at you like the Boy Who Cried Wolf.
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