Temp Agency Won’t Let Worker Fill Out An Accident Report

Most of the shady moves in Illinois workers’ compensation cases happen by insurance companies.  They’ll do things like deny your medical benefits without a reason, send a nurse case manager to your doctor’s appointments, or lie and say the case is “under investigation” with the hopes that you will just go away.

Some employers can act in a bad way too.  The worst, in my opinion, are staffing agencies.  They seem to not view their workers as people and are clearly more concerned about keeping their clients happy than looking out for the best interests of their workers. It’s likely due to the lack of day-to-day interaction and greed.

One temp service went beyond anything I’ve seen before.  A worker sustained a leg injury on his staffed job.  While he was at a factory, the actual employer is the temp agency.  So he had to report the injury to them.  He did so and they refused to let him fill out an accident report.

As far as I can gather, this illegal action was done by some clueless manager who was worried about his own statistics and keeping the client happy.  Staffing agencies tend to have a lot of injuries to their workers because many aren’t trained properly or are just thrown into work they aren’t familiar with. I actually blame the companies that hire the staffing agencies because they too seem to treat these workers like cattle.  By not hiring them as actual employees, there can be a real disconnect.

But back to this injured worker. What do you do if an employer won’t fill out an accident report?

While technically illegal, this bad action shouldn’t affect the case in any way.  The first thing to do is get medical care and report to the doctor that the injury is work-related.  Your health is number one and getting care also puts the case in motion. After that, the problem can be solved by a lawyer who will officially file the case with the State.  Doing so forces the employer to report it to their insurance and acts as an injury report.

Ironically, this bad boss is actually doing the worker a favor.  He still is going to get the treatment he needs and since the case is being filed by a lawyer, it will prevent the insurance company from talking to the worker directly.  This will stop any bogus “under investigation” tactics and will also prevent them from doing things that aren’t in your best interests like taking a recorded statement.

So it’s a bother that this is happening, but in the long run, it shouldn’t hurt your case if you are looking out for yourself.

As always, if you have any questions related to workers’ compensation law, you can fill out our contact form or call us at 888-705-1766 to speak with a lawyer for free.

Who Determines What Medical Care Should Be Approved?

Under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, if you are injured on the job you are entitled to reasonable and necessary medical care that is related to your work injury. In other words, getting physical therapy for a work related back injury would be reasonable and necessary.  They’d have to pay for 100% of it at any medical provider you wanted to see (with very few exceptions). But if your appendix needed to come out, they wouldn’t have to pay for it as that treatment wouldn’t be related to your job at all.

Medical care under the Work Comp Act gives a glimpse in to what life could be like if we had universal health care in this country.  It doesn’t cost the patients anything and allows them to focus on their health. Of course though, because it’s still administered by insurance companies, there are challenges. It’s not unusual for a worker to get hurt on the job and have trouble initially getting medical care approved.

So who gets to decide what medical treatment should or shouldn’t be paid for.

Technically, per Section 16 of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, it’s the Workers’ Compensation Commission that decides.  But that’s just technical talk for cases that are disputed and go to trial. In reality, it’s usually your doctor who decides what is reasonable and necessary. And they do it based on what is standard practice in the medical community.

So if you hurt your back, it would be reasonable to have physical therapy, a MRI if you don’t get better, epidural steroid injections and finally surgery if nothing else has worked.  In most cases that is a reasonable course of action and if an orthopedic doctor thinks it’s necessary, if the case were to go to trial, the Commission would likely agree.

On the other hand, if instead of seeing an orthopedic doctor, you go to one who wants to heal your back with crystals and herbal remedies, it’s not likely that the Commission would approve this treatment and make the insurance company pay for it.  That would be true even if your doctor sounds credible in saying why your treatment is reasonable and necessary.  That’s because it’s not accepted practice within the medical community to treat a back injury with crystals.

The same would potentially be true if the orthopedic doctor wanted to perform some surgery that happens in Europe but is not standard practice in the United States or if it involved a device not approved by the FDA. Generally speaking, it’s traditional procedures that are allowed.

For the insurance company to deny benefits, they are also supposed to have a doctor discuss your care. That means they’d need a doctor to state a MRI isn’t needed for example or more likely, that the need for treatment is not related to a work injury.

Ultimately, in most cases if your doctor and you are credible, the care will be approved. Sometimes insurance companies deny treatment without a valid reason at all just to see if they can get away with it.  The good news is that an experienced lawyer can almost always solve that type of problem.

 

Flight Attendants And Work Injuries

With Covid finally under control, the airline industry is booming. The last year has had people on edge and also emboldened some people to behave like assholes.  As a result, passenger problems on airlines are increasing.

How much?  From April 8 to May 15, Southwest reported 477 passenger incidents.  That’s a crazy high number.  I fly Southwest about six times a year, and I honestly can recall only one time where a passenger was unruly.  Sometime during that time period, a passenger knocked out the teeth of a Southwest flight attendant.  What did the flight attendant do to deserve this? They reportedly asked the passenger to follow basic inflight instructions like keep your tray table in an upright position.

The flight attendant unions are strong and do seem to be stepping up to improve their safety.  It takes a special type of idiot to attack a flight attendant.  Is it ever their fault that a flight is late or you have to wear a mask or anything else? Of course not. This is never going to end well for the asshole passenger and I take joy when I hear about one of them being led away in cuffs or missing out on a vacation.

We’ve helped hundreds of flight attendants over the years.  While most of the injuries are from lifting or turbulence, there certainly is a rise of work-related injuries from the passengers.  Alcohol is surely the number one factor, but as I said, people are acting way more entitled these days than ever before.  We’ve also seen an uptick in cases of people arguing about where they are sitting.

If you are a flight attendant, it’s important to know that Illinois has likely the best workers’ compensation laws in the country.  United flight attendants can bring their cases here thanks to their union contract which makes the contract for hire Chicago.  Anyone based out of O’Hare of Midway can bring their case here as well.  The ones who don’t always bring their case here but should are the ones that get hurt on a flight that takes off from Illinois or is in Illinois air space. In many cases, you can file for work comp here.

Getting the case in Illinois as compared to a state like Texas for example can literally be the difference of hundreds of thousands of dollars in your pocket if you have a severe injury.  You also get to choose your own medical provider and don’t have to deal with overly employer-friendly rules and regulations.

We have worked with flight attendants from every major airline. I wouldn’t say one is better than another, although Southwest does seem to have a little higher rate of incidents due to their open seating policy and the number of flights to party cities like Vegas that are offered at lower fares.

While every case is different, I do want flight attendants to know that Illinois law is on their side and we can help, even if you just have questions. To speak with an experienced attorney for free and in confidence, call us at 312-346-5578 any time.

 

Illinois Work Injuries And Self Treatment

If you are hurt while working on the job, the first and best piece of advice I give is to go to a doctor. It doesn’t require a law degree to tell people that. It’s mostly common sense. If you are hurting, you get help. From a legal standpoint, you can’t prove you are really hurt if you don’t go to a doctor.  And the longer you wait to go, the harder it is to prove that your need for treatment is related to the original injury.

In reality though, people want to avoid doctors. I get it. I don’t want to go to the doctor either if I don’t have to. Other people have been hurt at work and seen the problem go away after a few days so they tough it out.  They don’t want to report every little thing or get a doctor’s help for it. So a little rest and Tylenol is how a lot of people take care of themselves.  If it drags out they will then go to a doctor (side note, I highly recommend that you get to a doctor within a week of your injury).

Other workers use home remedies or other actions to take care of themselves. There’s a fairly well known case from 2016 of a truck driver who got a blister on the bottom of his foot from all of the driving he was doing. He lanced the blister himself and it became infected which led to him needing significant medical treatment. In other words, a minor issue became a major one because of the actions he took instead of seeing a doctor.

There wasn’t a dispute that the blister was work related. But the insurance company for the trucking company felt they shouldn’t have to pay for any other medical care since he made his injury worse with his self care.  This case went to trial and ended up at the Illinois Appellate Court. Here’s what the judges said:

Every natural consequence that flows from an injury that arose out of and in the course of one’s employment is compensable under the [Illinois Workers’ Compensation] Act absent the occurrence of an independent intervening accident that breaks the chain of causation between the work-related injury and an ensuing disability or injury.

In plain English, the law in Illinois is that if a problem wouldn’t have happened without the original work injury, then it should be covered as if it’s part of the original injury.  A good example of this is a worker who hurts their leg and ends up on crutches. Because of the crutch use, they develop an elbow injury. The elbow injury would be considered part of the leg injury and not only would the worker’s treatment get covered, they’d also get a settlement for the arm injury as well as the leg injury.

In this 2016 trucker case, the Appellate Court found that “but-for” the existence of a work-related blister, the worker clearly wouldn’t have had an infection. This is a common sense application of the law and good news for injured workers.

So while I highly recommend that you go to a doctor if you are hurt at work, if your situation gets worse through self care or you suffer a new injury after following doctor’s orders, you won’t likely get left out in the cold with nobody to pay your bills.

When Your Employer Wants You To Go Back To Work – IL Work Comp

I don’t usually get questions I haven’t heard before, but it happens. A reader of my blog contacted me with a question I haven’t been asked in my 24 years of being a workers’ compensation lawyer. He wanted to know:

If my employer wants me to go back to work after a work related injury, who is the first person informed? Me, the doctor, someone else???  Do I need a lawyer if I’m not able to work?

I’ve never had an injured worker phrase this concern this way before.  While it’s great that the employer wants him to go back to work, what they want doesn’t matter.  What does matter is what your doctor says.  They are the ones qualified to tell you what is really wrong with you and they should be independent and looking out for you, at least in theory.

Your employer, the insurance company, and other people who aren’t medical doctors are sure to have opinions about what really is wrong with you medically or should be wrong with you medically. What they think is irrelevant. They can’t provide medical opinions and they certainly aren’t independent.

The way the employer has been pressuring this guy, who has a serious leg injury, made him say to me, “I wish I never even started workers compensation.” I get his frustration, but the real problem is that he’s been abused and taken advantage of and hasn’t had anyone to stand up for him, at least not until now.

The bottom line is that your employer can’t tell you to go back to work if your doctor says differently.  That’s how it is in Illinois. It can be scary to face that pressure, but it gets easier when you know what the law is, understand your rights and have someone in your corner backing you up.

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act exists to protect the right of injured workers. It’s for the most part straightforward. If you are injured on the job and a doctor doesn’t think you can work or that you need restrictions, it has to be listened to. Any “tough guy” who thinks you should be working even when doing so can make your injury worse has no say in the matter. It happens all of the time, but the law is on the side of honest people.

If you have questions, we will provide a free consultation with an attorney any time. Fill out our contact form or call us at 312-346-5578.  We cover all of Illinois.

Do I Get A Settlement? Illinois Workers Compensation Payments

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act provides for a bunch of benefits that have to be provided and one benefit that can be provided but doesn’t have to.

In simpler terms, if you are hurt at work in Illinois, your employer has to be for your time off of work and 100% of your medical care. No co-pays, nothing out of pocket.  The only way around that is if they have a defense to your case of some sort.  If they deny benefits without good reason, an Arbitrator can hit them with huge financial penalties.

While a lot of people who call me have worries about getting the medical care they need or compensation for time off work, by far the most common question I get is, “What is my case worth?” Some people also want to know if they will get a settlement at all.

Under IL law, the insurance company isn’t required to offer you a settlement.  Some employers, like the state of Illinois, very rarely offer one at all.  Most will though because the way insurance companies work is they like to deal with known numbers.  By that I mean, once you settle, your case is done and they can close your file.  This takes away any chance that your condition will turn for the worse and they’ll have to pay out more money for medical treatment.

So why wouldn’t they offer a settlement? There are a few reasons:

  1. If you have a history of bringing a lot of work injury cases, they want to make it difficult on you to discourage you from doing it again.
  2. You have a likely chance of re-injury when you return to work, especially if it’s your back, shoulder, or neck. By waiting, they will reduce the total payout in the end as they’ll only have to settle on one case, not two.
  3. You are a pain in their butt. Some injured workers get understandably emotional. I’ve seen a few take that emotion too far and be abusive to insurance adjusters. That’s a bad idea and some of them will retaliate by not offering a settlement.
  4. They honestly believe they have a good defense to your case.
  5. They want a reputation as being difficult to deal with. This happens more in minor car accident cases than workers comp, but some insurance companies want to be so difficult that good attorneys will decide it’s not worth their time to get involved in cases against them because it will be too much work.

So does this mean you are at the mercy of the insurance company if you want to get paid?  Not at all.  Sometimes they will make you a settlement offer, although it’s almost always a low ball one.  Usually, when an attorney gets involved, an offer will come and it will be much fairer.

But if there’s no offer at all, your attorney can get you the right compensation by taking your case to trial. After an arbitration, you will get an award that will pay you out whatever the Judge thinks the case is worth. Trials aren’t usually expensive and don’t take a ton of time. And quite honestly, when the insurance company knows the case might go to trial, that is how you get their best offer.

So don’t despair. You almost always will get something and there are easy ways to make sure that you get the most money possible in the end.

Live In Illinois, Work In Another State: How To Bring An IL Case

Illinois workers’ compensation laws are some of the most worker friendly ones in the country and still fair to employers and insurance companies who make billions off of these cases every year.  When it comes to border states like Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri and especially Indiana, you’d be way better off having your case in Illinois if you can. When the case is in Illinois that means it falls under Illinois law.  That will entitle you to higher pay for your time off work, better medical treatment and a bigger settlement when you are ready to resolve your case.

So how do you bring a case in Illinois?

The most common way is to be hurt while working here.  Anyone in that situation can file their case here even if they were just here on business and primarily work elsewhere.  You can also file your case in IL if you primarily work out of Illinois. The third way to file a case here is if your “contract for hire” took place while you were in Illinois.

In plain English that means that the last act needed to hire you occurred while you were in Illinois.  You might get offered a job over the phone, but if you have to travel to an out of state facility for a physical or to complete paper work then you can’t file in Illinois. But if they offer you the job over the phone while you are living in Illinois or you get hired in Illinois but later move out of state for the company, you can likely bring your case here.  That would almost always be in your best interests.

I bring this up because with Covid over the past year, many people are not only working from home, but also getting hired by out of state companies after only having Zoom interviews.  You might stay in Illinois or you might move to the city where the job is located, but if all of the hiring work happened while you lived in Illinois, if you get hurt then you can bring a case in Illinois.  That is potentially really great news for you if you are injured.  It gives you a much better chance of getting the best medical care possible and not going bankrupt if the case injury lingers for a while and you can’t work.

There are of course some exceptions and variables in these situations. We are happy to provide you a free consultation to see if you can bring your case in Illinois and help you make an educated decision. If you’d like to talk with a lawyer for free, call us at 312-346-5578. We cover all of Illinois.

How Long Until Your Work Comp Benefits Should Start?

When you are hurt on the job in Illinois, you are entitled to have all of your medical care to be paid and 2/3 of your pay, tax-free, for your time off of work.  These are really important benefits because if you are injured, immediate medical care can be the difference between a short-term and long-term problem. And of course, if you can’t work and get a paycheck, you need money to live off of.

Insurance companies don’t make money by doing the right thing.  They save money by not providing benefits. Lately, we’ve been hearing from a lot of injured workers who have been off work a month or more and haven’t been paid.  This has led to multiple questions about how long an insurance company has until they can pay you.

Your medical care should start right away.  All bills must be paid unless there is a good faith reason not to. Such a reason could be a failed drug test, an honest belief you weren’t really hurt at work, or the treatment not being related to a work injury.  Generally speaking, you don’t need pre-approval to get medical care. If you tell the provider it’s a work-related injury, they will generally treat you.

With your time off work, there can’t be an unreasonable delay. To us, if the insurance company has an off-work slip from your doctor and no defense to your case, you should be paid after being off of work for two weeks and the payments should happen at least twice a month until you are cleared to return to work.  We too often are seeing workers who have been off work for 1-2 months and haven’t gotten a penny. The insurance company will claim they are gathering information, investigating the claim, don’t have all the documents they need, etc.  It’s almost always bullshit.

If you have a legitimate injury, there should be no delay to medical treatment or paid time off work. If it happens, the only solution is to hire a lawyer and have them file a 19b petition for immediate hearing along with a petition for penalties and fees. This puts the insurance company on the clock and requires them to provide a legitimate reason for the delay or denial of your case. If they don’t have one they will either roll over and pay you or get punished at a trial.

The good news is that 19b trial motions usually get a response that works out. To the insurance company, this is just business or a game. If they deny you, maybe you’ll just go away or go back to work when it’s not healthy to. That’s terrible for you but potentially great for them. It’s gross, but really how the insurance industry operates.

The bottom line is don’t stress, look out for yourself, and know that there are solutions out there. If you want to speak with a lawyer for free or have any questions, contact us at any time.

Health Insurance And Illinois Workers’ Compensation Law

We are experienced Illinois work injury attorneys. Contact us for a free consultation at any time.

Stick with me on this one.

I have the best dog. She’s so fun and loving. She also gets really active and excited.  We were at a park recently and I was in flip flops and she was running like crazy.  She was playing with another dog and they ran fast toward me. One of them stepped hard on my foot and gashed my big toe pretty hard.  It got cut pretty badly and in the following week was swollen and looking infected.

I ended up going to a local ER because of the likely infection.  I was talked to by a triage nurse and then my vitals were taken.  I was then sent to a room where I waited for about 45 minutes until a doctor came in. She was very nice and only needed to look at my toe for about 30 seconds to say it was likely an infection and recommend an anti-biotic.  Her care was excellent and sensible. I didn’t come in with a huge injury, just a need to confirm a likely infection and get a prescription.

I waited an additional 30 minutes for someone to come back with paperwork so I could leave. In the meantime a guy came in to confirm my address and then advise me that the total bill for my time there would be $1,700.00.  I was given no medication, didn’t have an X-ray or other test that required expensive equipment and shared a room with someone else.  Because it was my first ER visit of the year, I was told that my responsibility would be the $1,000.00 deductible that I have. I was there for less than two hours. And I have “great” insurance.

That is insane and an anecdote for how terrible the health care system is in this country.  I’m not looking for pity, and I was an idiot to not go to an urgent care instead.  But it is an example of why some people avoid doctors altogether.  It’s just too expensive.

So why bring up this story?

Because if you are injured on the job in Illinois, you don’t have to have this worry. You essentially get to experience what it would be like to live in a country with universal health care.  That’s because 100% of your medical care should be covered as long as it’s reasonable and related to your work injury. There are no deductibles. There are no out of pocket expenses or co-pays.  You generally speaking get to choose your provider.  You don’t have to go to an urgent care when you think an ER would be better. You don’t have to see a chiropractor when you know an orthopedic doctor would be better.

You get to prioritize your health and trying to get better.  And doing so won’t bankrupt you.  It’s how our health care system should work for everyone, but unfortunately only works for injured workers.

At least once a week I talk to someone who has been injured on the job in Illinois and hasn’t gone to the doctor because they have no insurance and don’t think they can afford medical care. That should never be an issue.  You are covered and don’t need to prevent proof of insurance to get treatment.  You are as covered as a Canadian when it comes to getting medical care.

This is a great law, sensible and great news for IL injured workers. And after my recent ER experience I’m more thankful than ever that the law is that way.

Machinist Injuries In Illinois

We are experienced Illinois work comp attorneys who fight for our clients. Contact us for free to speak with a lawyer any time. We cover all of Illinois.

Are you a machinist or metalworker in Illinois? You are surely aware that a risk of injury comes with your occupation. Despite intensive training, advanced safeguards, and a company’s focus on safety, accidents do happen whether they are from overuse or the risks of the job.  We have been privileged to represent thousands of machine workers in the last 20 years including many great union workers.

According to OSHA and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers that operate machinery experience approximately 18,000 crushing injuries, lacerations, amputations, and abrasions per year. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common injuries in machine shops.

Repetitive injuries
Often a machinist is engaging in a repetitive motion. Repetitive movements can cause a gradual buildup of damage to muscles, tendons, and nerves. These injuries are classified as repetitive strain injuries (RSI), occupational overuse syndrome (OOS), repetitive motion disorder (RMD), and cumulative trauma disorder (CTD).  We see a lot of problems develop to the back and arms from repetitive use.

Lifting injuries
Material handling and lifting can cause muscle strains and ligament sprains, disc prolapses and disc herniations. The back and shoulder are often injured, but the elbow and wrist are common injury spots as well.

Chemical exposure and lung diseases
Certain injuries develop over time due to chemical exposure and/or poor ventilation. For example, welders have protective gear such as helmets and face masks, but they may still come in contact with harmful gases such as carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide, and ozone. They may develop pneumonia, occupational asthma, or even cancer.

Grinders, sanders, and finishers are also at risk. Again, even with proper safety equipment, they may breathe in shrapnel, dust, or other airborne matter.

Injuries caused by hand tools
Machine workers often utilize a variety of hand tools such as files, calipers, grinders, sanders, and saws. Excessive use or repetitive motion with these tools are one source of injury, as referenced above. In addition, the tools themselves and particles or sparks flying off of the tools can be a direct source of injury.

Regardless of the injury, it is critical for the injured worker to seek medical help immediately. It is often the case that the sooner an injury is evaluated and treated, the better chance there is for recovery and better health down the road.  Under Illinois law, 100% of your medical bills should be paid by workers comp and you should be compensated for your time off from work too.

If you have suffered an injury at a machine or metalworking shop, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We will speak with you for free and help you get the compensation you deserve. Fill out our contact form or call us at 888-705-1766.

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