A caller to my office was seriously injured on the job.   He appears to be permanently and totally disabled which means he’ll never return to work ever again.  He had a terrible back injury with three surgeries and did not make a good recovery.
Unfortunately he was not looking for legal help as he already had a lawyer.  He just wanted to verify that what his attorney was saying is true and I’m fine doing that.  However, I wasn’t expecting the chuckle I got from his call.
He’s now in a wheel-chair (that’s not the funny part) and the insurance company had to pay for a van for his transportation and also had to remodel his house for him.  These were medically necessary items.  Early on after his accident, they had to provide him with a gym membership.  Again, this was to aid his recovery.
Now he wants someone to shovel his sidewalk.  In the summer he’d like his lawn mowed.  Beyond that he wants someone to escort him to parties and other social events, including a driver so he can get drunk and female company.  His reasoning is that because of this injury he can’t get a date because he doesn’t think anyone would want to date a guy in a wheelchair.
It never hurts to ask because if you don’t then you’ll definitely get nothing, but these requests are not allowed under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act.  They aren’t medically necessary as they don’t aid his recovery.  There theoretically could be an argument that the sidewalk needs to be shoveled for his safety, but I’ve never heard of that happening.
His current attorney, who is a good guy, told him the same thing.
In most cases you get paid for your time off of work, your reasonable and necessary medical bills and then you get a settlement.  Every now and then something unusual happens like the gym membership or the van, but in 99% of the cases that doesn’t happen.
You also don’t get pain and suffering or punitive damages because work comp isn’t a lawsuit.
But I encourage you to ask questions and find out what you can and can’t get. It really does not hurt to ask.

By Michael Helfand