In some workers’ compensation cases in Illinois, your employer’s insurance company might want more involvement in your medical care than you are comfortable with. Any benefits you get after a work injury are going to be paid by the insurer. Legitimately, they need to see your medical records related to the work injury in order to understand the reason for your claim. However, they are going to try to use this information to deny your claim if they can, which is why you need to be careful.

In order to give the insurer access to your medical records, they will ask you to sign an authorization. Medical records are of course private, and this authorization tells medical providers that you are allowing the insurer to look at your records. You won’t get very far if you refuse to sign the authorization. It’s a necessary step in the process of getting benefits. But, you don’t have to sign it as-is. Many authorizations are very broad. You can try to limit the scope of the authorization, to cover records for a set time period, such as the date of your work accident and after. You also can try to limit the length of the authorization.

Something else to look out for is whether the authorization allows the insurance company to actually speak with your doctor without you being present or without your consent. If you give them this kind of access to your doctor, it can give them a lot of influence over your treatment, work restrictions, the doctor’s opinion on the cause of injury (work or outside of work), etc. It’s in the employer’s interest to get you back to work, so they might influence your doctor to release you back to work, for example. Then the insurance company doesn’t have to pay you benefits for not being able to work.

A similar strategy used by the insurance company is sending a nurse case manager to your appointments. In Illinois, you do not have to let them into the exam room with you, and we can’t think of any good reason why you would want to.

The safest way to deal with the insurance company is to put the whole situation in the hands of your lawyer. An experienced Illinois workers’ compensation attorney knows how the insurance company operates and can protect you against tactics like these.

By Michael Helfand