We blog a lot about lazy lawyers who don’t fight for their clients and end up hurting the case or in some instances, destroying it.
But it’s not just lawyers you need to look out for. You need to look out for you.
There is a lot an injured worker can do to hurt their case. Number one on that list is to lie. If you lie to your doctor or embellish your injuries, you are setting yourself up to lose the case.
Two cases which just came out show other dangers of workers doing things wrong and causing harm to their own case.
In the first claim, a worker hurt on the job asked permission to leave and go to the hospital, but didn’t actually report a work related injury. He had just returned to work from another injury so the employer assumed that’s why he was going to the hospital. It turns out that he had injured his shoulder in which what was a new accident. Under Illinois law, you have to report within 45 days of an injury that it happened at work and if you don’t you can lose your right to bring a case and receive benefits.
That’s what happened in this claim. My guess is that he was worried about rocking the boat and didn’t want to say anything. This case ended up all the way to the appellate court of Illinois and he lost. And from what I can read he would have won had he only said that his arm was hurting him while working. It was the truth and the truth, like always, was the way to go.
In a second claim, an injured worker with a terrible knee and leg injury had a light duty restriction which his employer could not accommodate. Under Illinois law, the insurance company has to continue to pay him benefits and offer him vocational rehabilitation which would assist him in finding a job within his restrictions. Long story short is that he didn’t cooperate with the voc rehab efforts and had his benefits terminated. To make matters worse he quit his job even though he wasn’t working.
Sometimes the work comp process sucks. That’s just a fact. But if you don’t cooperate, whether it’s blowing off doctor appointments or not cooperating in a job search or not showing up for an IME, you can risk losing your benefits. Sometimes you have to suck it up and do what’s needed. Most people I tell that to don’t want to hear that, but only crappy attorneys tell you what you want to hear. We always give it to you straight. I wouldn’t want to go to an IME exam either, especially if I knew that it was going to be a joke, but you not showing up will cause you to lose your day in court.
This guy made it worse by resigning. You never want to resign a job while you are under active care and don’t have a job somewhere else to return to. It’s quite possible that he cost himself more than $200,000.00 because he can no longer make a wage differential claim if his new job ends up paying much less than his old one.
Most of the mistakes that people make in these cases are done out of emotion. It’s honestly one of the biggest reasons to have an attorney because a good lawyer will take emotion out of the case and make offer objective guidance based on experience and a logical analysis of the case facts.
If you would like help finding the right lawyer for your workers’ compensation case, or if you just have a question, call us at (312) 346-5578 or fill out our form online. We help throughout the state of Illinois.