A common call to my office goes something like this:
I injured my back at work six months ago. I had an MRI and it shows that I have a herniated disc. My doctor agrees that my problem is work related, but the insurance company sent me to some IME doctor who says that I’m fine and that any problems I have must be from a car accident from when I was 17 years old. I’m 52 now. How can they deny me? I’ve been very patient with them, but they won’t approve my surgery and I am running out of money.
I don’t want to over-simplify how the Illinois workers’ compensation system works, but this scenario is fairly easy to work out.
Step 1 – Hire a reputable work comp lawyer who has a history of going to trial on cases.
Step 2 – They gather all of your medical records and schedule a deposition of your doctor and the IME doctor.
Step 3 – You meet them at the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission for a trial and put your fate in the hands of an Arbitrator.
It does take a few months for all of this, longer if you don’t already have a case filed, but this isn’t rocket science. A case like the one in my example is really straight forward and quite honestly, there is no way a good lawyer should lose that case. You just need to get the wheels in motion to get a decision from an Arbitrator.
Unfortunately, many injured workers either delay getting a lawyer (that’s your fault) or hire one that’s very lazy and doesn’t do what it takes to get to a trial (which is of course their fault). Getting a case filed before you “need” an attorney is a security blanket in case the insurance company denies your case or cuts you off. And while it’s not ideal to switch attorneys, if you have a lazy one that won’t go to bat for you –which is really all they have to do – then you fire them and get a good one in your corner.
In general though, if you are getting screwed over you can either accept it or do something about it. I’m sure some lawyers try to talk all lawyerly and impress their clients, but it’s really not more complicated than what I said. All I know is that if someone was kicking me in the gut, I’d do something.
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