Illinois workers’ compensation claims get denied all of the time for the most ridiculous reasons or often without a reason at all.
When your case is denied, you have no choice other than getting a lawyer.  If they know what they are doing they will get your case ready for trial which usually means subpoenaing all of your medical records and possibly taking a deposition of your treating doctor.
Once that happens the case can go to trial (with the exception being if there was an IME and we need to take that doctor’s deposition). This stuff isn’t rocket science.  Sure, occasionally you have to arrange a witness to attend or have other issues to address, but if you aren’t being paid your benefits, this is what happens.
I am writing this post though because recently I got a call from an injured worker who hurt her back after a day of heavy lifting.  It’s a pretty straight forward case on paper.  She has no history of ever treating with a doctor for back trouble.  She went to work and lifted items for four plus hours and at the end of the day she had terrible back pain and told her supervisor about it.  The next morning she couldn’t move so she went to the doctor.  Her doctor stated that she has a work related back injury.
The insurance company denied the case because there was no specific injury.  That of course does not matter because back injuries as the result of repetitive lifting are covered under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act.
My caller called a lawyer which was a good decision.  The lawyer filed a 19(b) petition which is a request for an immediate hearing and the right thing to do.  A trial date was set.  That’s when it got weird.
According to the caller, her lawyer said she doesn’t have to show up for the trial.  Uhm, that means the case isn’t going to trial because if the injured worker isn’t there then there is no case at all.  You as the injured worker will always be the first witness as it’s your job to paint a picture for the Arbitrator as to what happened to you.  Nobody can do that but you.  A lawyer isn’t allowed to testify on your behalf.  An Arbitrator needs to judge your credibility and the defense attorney is allowed to ask you questions.
The caller insisted that her attorney told her a trial would happen without her.  Again, that’s possible.  I think he probably meant to say that the case was not ready for trial yet, but they got a court date to put pressure on the insurance company.  Sometimes that happens because it forces the other side to agree to deposition dates.  When they are in the wrong they will often delay.
Nobody is more important to the result of any case other than the person that was hurt.  What I told this caller is that she needs to get back in touch with her attorney.  And quite honestly, even if I knew the case wouldn’t go to trial that day, I’d still want you there so we can discuss the case together. It’s also not unheard of for you to give your testimony and then for the lawyers to complete the doctor’s depositions at a later date.  This is your case and your life.  Not having you at the hearing location is a mistake.