What Is The Phone Number For The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission?

Over the last few months I’ve gotten many calls where the caller says something like, “I was looking for the number for workers’ compensation.”

It’s usually someone who is early on in the process having been recently injured and to no fault of their own, someone who is not experienced with Illinois work injuries.

There is no “number for workers’ compensation.”  There is an organization called the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission that administers claims.  By that I mean that is where you formally file your case and they will assign an Arbitrator to hear disputes.  They also help set the rules for work injuries.  What they don’t do is get you a doctor, answer questions or do anything about the insurance company acting badly.  You’d be lucky to get someone on the phone and if you do it likely will go nowhere.  That’s not a knock on them, it’s just not their job to help you.  They are supposed to be impartial.

The other place people refer to is the insurance company that is handling the case.  While they will gladly talk to you, it’s a terrible idea to talk to them.  They might try to get you to give a recorded statement which you definitely don’t want to do.  They might tell you things that aren’t true and cause you to make decisions that can hurt your health or your case.  So while you are allowed to call them, don’t be surprised if it goes against you or if they frustrate you by telling you that they are investigating your case.

I don’t tell people to get a lawyer because it’s good for me.  I tell them that because it’s usually good for them.  That’s true whether you hire me, someone in our State wide network or some firm I have nothing to do with.  It costs nothing up front, it will almost always result in more money in your pocket in the end and most importantly it allows you to focus on your health and not have the little games insurance companies play or your lack of knowledge get in the way.

If you’d like to just ask a question for free without any commitment, you are always welcome to call me at any time.  I promise to tell it to you straight.

“Has The City Of Chicago Run Out Of Money?”

I was contacted by a very nice woman who has a work injury case with the City of Chicago.  She has an attorney and although she hasn’t needed medical treatment for about two years, her case isn’t settled.

She asked her lawyer why it was taking so long and couldn’t get much of a response.  Finally, after a few tries, the attorney told her, “I think the City of Chicago has run out of money and that’s why they won’t offer anything.”

I’m not sure how to type the sound of someone spitting on their drink it shock, but please picture that.  This statement by her attorney is a lie and it’s a doozy.

The City budget may be out of control, just like it is for the State and the County.  But none of them are out of money and certainly it’s not preventing them from settling work comp cases.  In fact they are settling cases every day.

Why this lawyer is lying is anyone’s guess, but rather than do his job, he’s blowing off his client.

With the City, or any other employer, if you want to settle and they won’t make you an offer, there is a simple solution.  Get the case ready for trial and then file a motion for trial.  You might not get a hearing the first time you ask for one, but you should by the second or third time.  If the City lawyers refuse to take a deposition of your doctor, you can file what is called a motion for dedimus which in plain English is an order from an Arbitrator requiring them to do their job and show up to the deposition.

I hate lying, lazy lawyers.  This job isn’t easy, but it’s certainly not that hard if you know what you are doing and any sort of work ethic.  It may not be glamorous, but this is what you signed up for.  If you are a lawyer and don’t like it then don’t punish your clients. Simply go find something else to do.

Bottom line, no matter who the employer is, unless they or their insurance company is in bankruptcy there is no excuse if they won’t make a settlement offer or they don’t make one that you want to accept.  Get ready for trial, get to trial and go from there.

Do I Get Paid If I Miss Work To Go To The Doctor?

One thing I’ve noticed in handling cases for over 20 years is that potential clients tend to have similar questions and experiences.  That’s in part because many insurance companies use the same tactics to try and discourage you from pursuing a claim or limiting what they pay you, even if it breaks the law.

A real common question of late is like this one I got from someone who started an online chat with us:

I hurt my wrist at work and have been going to the doctor and physical therapy appointments during work hours which has caused me to lose money.  Do they have to pay for me the time I miss from work for these appointments?

The answer to this question is it depends.  We chatted further and I learned that the doctor can only see her during work hours, but it’s possible to do physical therapy after work.

Under Illinois workers’ compensation law, if you can go to medical appointments for your injury after work hours, then the insurance company doesn’t have to pay you for time missed.  If you can only go during work hours then they do have to pay you.

Most doctor’s offices are of course usually only open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. at most.  So if your job is during the day, you should be compensated for any missed time.  On the other hand, most physical therapy places have hours that extend until eight or nine p.m., especially those in the Chicagoland area.  So unless you have some specialized physical therapy that can only be done during the day, then you won’t get paid.

What is specialized physical therapy? That would likely be for someone who has a serious injury that requires more than an hour long session or someone with a unique injury who needs a therapist who has experience with their problem.

What you can expect is that you will be told off the bat that you aren’t going to get paid and the insurance company will make you do something about it to get them to follow the law.  It’s all part of a game to them and how they make money.  So don’t stress.  Usually we can solve a problem like this with a couple of phone calls or a quick court motion.

A Truck Driver With Severe Blood Clots From Sitting Too Long

I got a call from a very sweet woman whose husband sustained a major injury.  He had multiple blood clots because due to his work as an over the road truck driver he sat for long periods of time.  Doing so in a confined space puts you at an increased risk of this happening. He ended up with a pulmonary embolism and was rushed to the hospital.  The good news is that he lived, but unfortunately he had a stroke during surgery and will never work again.

The company is not  based in Illinois and the accident didn’t happen here, so I couldn’t help them.  I did think it would be a good case to talk about with my readers.

Generally under Illinois work comp law, if your job puts you at an increased risk of injury as compared to the general public, you have a compensable case.  Sitting in general is something everyone does during the day so at first you’d think this isn’t a good case.

The reality though is that while everyone sits, truck drivers are forced to sit for hours at a time, in cramped spaces, without the ability to take frequent breaks.  In fact some trucking companies limit the amount of stops you can take and generally speaking the nature of the job requires drivers to keep driving, day after day, for many hours at a time.

So while someone who works a desk job couldn’t likely make a good claim for blood clots developing due to sitting (as they can likely stand whenever they want), a truck driver would fit in to a different category in my opinion.  Blood clots, also known as deep vein thrombosis or DVT, are a big risk because of the nature of the work.

The fact that other risks are associated with DVT’s such as age or obesity are relevant, but to win an Illinois work comp case you have to show that your job contributed to the bad result, not that it was the only cause.  Every case is different, but I would bet that for any truck driver who has been driving for a long period of time, if they got a DVT we could win their case.

While some blood clots dissolve on their own, many can be life threatening, especially if they break off and go to the lungs.  Bottom line is that if you suspect you have one, you should get to the emergency room ASAP.

We are Chicago based work injury attorneys who cover the entire State of Illinois. We’d be happy to talk to you for free.  We can’t promise a result, but do promise direct, plain English, honest advice.  We will treat you like a family member or friend.  If you want to chat fill out our contact form or call us at (312) 346-5578.

It May Be The 4th Of July, But We Are Open

Happy 4th!  While nobody is in our office today, we always have a 24/7 answering service at 312-346-5578 and you can also fill out our contact form.  Either way, you’ll get a quick call back from an attorney because while we are celebrating like anyone else, we never truly take a day off of work.

So contact us if you need us.  It’s not a bother, we are happy to help.

Beyond that, stay safe, have fun and we’ll be back with a regular blog post in a couple of days.

Reporting A Repetitive Trauma Injury In Illinois

Illinois employees can get workers’ compensation benefits when they are involved in a work related accident or injury. Many assume only work related incidents stemming from a specific or sudden activity, or an ‘acute’ injury, such as wrist fractures, ankle sprains, or shoulder dislocation, qualify for workers’ compensation. The protections of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act are not limited to just these injuries as the Act also provides compensation to employees suffering from repetitive trauma.

Repetitive trauma injuries are caused over time by a doing the same activity over and over or by a sustained and awkward position required from the employee’s job. The most common example is someone who types all day getting carpal tunnel or someone who does a lot of overhead lifting getting a shoulder injury.  That said, we’ve also helped a ton of workers who have back injuries and while they never felt a “pop” while lifting, their back has just broken down over time.

Employees have forty-five days from the date of injury to report their injury to their employer for both acute injuries and repetitive trauma type injuries.  However, determining the date of a repetitive trauma is much more challenging than it is for a one time injury. This is due to the nature of the injury developing gradually over time. Our clients often notice pain at the end of the work day or week and then feel better after some rest.  Eventually though the pain becomes too much.

Cases are often challenged and become the center of litigation to whether an employer was given proper notice by the employee suffering from a repetitive trauma injury. There are two possible methods of determining the date of injury that you should be aware of.

The first method to determining the date of injury would be when a ‘reasonable person’ notices symptoms caused by work. For example, if you felt tingling felt in your hand or arm and do the same type of activity all day and then went to the doctor who told you that your job was causing your problems, you’d be on the clock to report it.

The second method to determining the date of injury is the date when the employee was no longer able to do their job because of the repetitive type injury. Because the employee continued to work, the courts assume the employee already recognized their work related injury.

The bottom line is that to be safe you should tell your supervisor or someone else at work that you suspect a work related injury as soon as you think of it.  The longer you wait the bigger the risk of them getting off on some sort of technicality. The best way to do it is in writing, but if it’s verbal make sure you document who you told, when you told them, where you were, etc.

Is this confusing?  It can be for sure.  Fill out our contact form or call us at 312-346-5578 if you have questions and want a free consult with a lawyer.

First Responders And Illinois Work Comp

Emergency workers and first responders are the brave individuals first to respond to disastrous events. Their lives are often at stake as they serve, protect and save. They dedicate their lives to helping others, but many find their own mental health suffering as a result. Just as our nation’s soldiers and veterans battle the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), so do our first responders.

In Illinois, unless you work in the City of Chicago, if you are a fireman or police officer you are covered under workers’ compensation laws.

They are at a heightened risk for workplace injury given their exposure to physical and psychological hazards, often witnessing and experiencing a series of traumatic events and face work-related stress. Emergency workers and first responders who suffer from PTSD may be eligible for worker’s compensation benefits. Benefits can include disability, medical and maintenance benefits, mileage reimbursement and vocational rehabilitation.

Receiving full benefits may be challenging for a first responder suffering from PTSD. However, in late 2017 an Illinois appellate court ruled, for the first time in history, in favor for a fire lieutenant to receive benefits after experiencing PTSD from a fire with a death related incident.

The lieutenant’s claim for workers’ compensation benefits was not successful at first. He was initially relieved from his duties until cleared by a psychiatrist who diagnosed him with post-traumatic stress disorder. It was argued he did not suffer a physical injury, did not witness the fatally injured firefighter get injured or die and was not involved in the rescue efforts, and therefore still was denied benefits.

First responders also of course get physical injuries.  We’ve helped police officers who have hurt their legs while running after a suspect (torn ACL’s and Achilles are the big ones), firemen who have hurt their backs from all the gear that they have to wear and many EMT’s who are hurt lifting patients.  Any physical injury while working would likely be covered.

We have worked with emergency workers throughout the State of Illinois to help them with their injury claims and of course would be happy to help you.  If you’d like a free consultation please do not hesitate to contact us at any time.

Hip Injuries In Illinois Workers’ Compensation Cases

We are experienced workers’ compensation attorneys who will talk to you for free.  We will talk to your for free and answer any questions you have.  Fill out our contact form, click our chat box or call us at 312-346-5578.  We are based out of Chicago, but have a state wide network of attorneys so we cover all of Illinois.

The hip joint is the largest joint of the body. Even though it can withstand repeated motion and a fair amount of wear and tear, it isn’t indestructible. The cartilage can wear down, causing damage. The muscles and tendons in the hip can get overused and the bones in the hip can break.

Hip injuries are one of the most common injuries at the workplace. Whether the injury was from a vehicle accident, walking into walls, doors, cabinets, etc., slipping, tripping or falling, or by overexertion or repetitive acts, these injuries cannot only limit mobility, they can be painful and may need years of hip therapy or even surgery.
The following are the most common workplace hip injuries:

• Hip fractures – A traumatic fall, blow, or equipment/car accident can cause a hip fractures. These may require surgery and rehabilitation, and can result in loss of mobility and pain.
• Hip strains – This is usually due to overexertion to the hip joint by repetitive activities is the main cause of hip strains.
• Post-traumatic arthritis – Post-traumatic arthritis caused by a traumatic injury to the joint like a fracture or fall. A repeated, penetrative, or blunt injury can lead to damage of the hip cartilage and can cause significant pain.
• Tendinitis – Tendinitis is inflammation or irritation of the tendons, the thick bands of tissue that attach bones to muscles. Repetitive stress from overuse is the general cause tendinitis.
• Bursitis – A bursa is the sack of fluid that sits between the pelvis and leg to reduce friction and allow free movement of the leg. If inflamed then the leg becomes very painful to move due to the swelling in the hip. Caused usually due to repetitive activities that overwork or irritate the hip joint. This type of injury will usually heal itself over a period of weeks.
• Osteoarthritis – Hip osteoarthritis (OA) caused by joint damage, resulting in pain and stiffness. This damage can accumulate over time and is the biggest cause for hip replacement.
• Dislocation – A dislocation occurs when the ball at the top of the femur slips out of the socket, causing severe pain and inability to move the leg. It usually takes a strong force from something like a hard fall, to cause a dislocated hip.

Over-the-counter pain medications and anti-inflammatory drugs can usually relieve hip pain caused by a muscle or tendon strain, osteoarthritis, or tendinitis. There are also injections administered by doctors to help reduce pain.

Exercising the hip joint with low-impact exercises, stretching, and resistance training can reduce pain and improve joint mobility. Physical therapy can also help increase your range of motion.
For a gentler approach, a few natural therapies used to help treat hip arthritis include acupuncture, hydrotherapy, massage, and supplements like turmeric and ginger.

If these conservative treatments haven’t helped and sitting and sleeping become unbearably uncomfortable, hip surgery to reposition or replace the hip joint may be the best option.
A total hip replacement, also known as total hip arthroplasty, is the most common type of hip surgery and is an extremely safe and effective procedure.

To understand a total hip replacement it is helpful to understand the anatomy of the hip a little. The hip is a ball-and-socket joint, formed by the acetabulum, which is part of the large pelvis bone. The ball, femoral head, is the upper end of the femur/thighbone. The bone surfaces of the ball and socket and covered with cartilage, a smooth tissue that cushions the ends of the bones and enables easy movement. Synovial membrane is a thin tissue surrounding the hip joint. It creates a small amount of fluid lubricating the cartilage and removes any hip friction. Ligaments connect the ball to the socket and provide joint stability.

For a total hip replacement, prosthetic components replace the damaged bones and cartilage. A metal stem placed into the hollow center of the femur. In the upper part of the metal stem, a ceramic or metal ball used to replace the femoral head. Metal sockets then used to replace damaged cartilage on the surface of the acetabulum/socket. Last, a plastic, ceramic or metal spacer is inserted between the new ball and socket to allow for smooth movement.

A hip replacement can be a major pain reliever, helping the hip joint to function better, improving walking, stability and movement.

If you need help with a hip injury or anything else related to Illinois workers’ compensation law, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Am I Entitled To A Settlement For My Illinois Work Injury?

While the number one question we get from people is, “What is my case worth?”, we’ve been getting a lot of calls and e-mails lately from people who are asking if they are entitled to a settlement all.

While we can be selective in the cases we take on, the reality is that almost every Illinois workers’ compensation case has some value.  While a settlement is designed to compensate you for the “permanent” nature of your injury (that is why it is called permanent partial disability), the truth is that many people get hurt and feel as good as new after they get medical care and in some cases they feel better.

For serious injury cases it’s hopefully obvious that you are entitled to something. How much will be based on your wages, your medical care, your job restrictions and how the injury still impacts you among other things.  Every case is different, but if you have a surgery and make above minimum wage you are likely entitled to something at the end of the case in the five or six figures.

Even for something small like a back strain where you went to physical therapy for a week, most insurance companies will give you $500-$1,000 to just wrap the case up.

To be clear, while an insurance company has to pay your medical bills and time off work, the don’t have to give you a settlement.  But if they don’t you can get one by filing for Arbitration.  If for some reason they won’t make a voluntary settlement offer (I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a case where that doesn’t happen) then the Arbitrator would award you a certain amount.

The bottom line is that pretty much every case has some sort of value.  The bigger worry is that when you do get an offer making sure that it’s for a fair amount.  Insurance companies don’t like to give money away.  If your case is worth $40,000 and they can get away with paying you $15,000 they will have a party to celebrate their success.

If you have questions about what you may be entitled to, call or e-mail us any time for a free consultation.  We cover all of Illinois.

When Your Co-Worker Attacks

I work with some great, friendly people.  While in my 20+ year career I’ve seen some people that acted crazy, I’ve been fortunate to never work with a psychopath.  Hopefully you are in that situation too.

Some people unfortunately have to work with nut jobs.  I’ve seen more and more examples lately of people with real anger control problems.

In general if you and your co-worker get in a fight there are two things that matter when it comes to determining if you have a case or not:

1. Were you the aggressor? In other words, did you start it?

2. Were you fighting about work or something personal?

If you start a fight and get hurt, you lose. If you are fighting over a girl or about whether the Cubs or Sox are better (it’s the Cubs by the way) or about where to go for happy hour, it wouldn’t be a case. If the fight has to do with work productivity or your schedule, etc., you would have a case.

Now you can’t win Illinois work comp benefits for a fight if you start it.  Sometimes though, when you work with a psychopath, you can win your work comp case when they attack you even if the fight had nothing to do with your job.

In a recent case, a plant manager was taking pictures of a worker with his cell phone.  The worker asked him why and the manager didn’t respond.  The worker went about his business and then out of the blue, without warning, the manager shoved him in to a forklift.  He then pulled the worker to the ground and began choking him.

Apparently this manager has major anger control problems and had been in several fights at work in the past.

In ruling for the worker, the Court noted the manager was combative and emotionally unstable.  Therefore all of the workers were at risk of injury from him due to being employed there.

So hopefully you don’t get in a fight at work, but if you do and you are attacked for no reason, you might win.  And if you are attacked over your job duties you should especially win.

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