In a case recently decided by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, it was again shown that a preexisting condition does not mean you can not get benefits.
In this case, a housekeeper at a Chicago hospital had to dust, vacuum and take out the trash among other duties. On the date she got hurt, her supervisor asked her to empty a recycle bin and when she lifted it she noticed it was very heavy. She didn’t feel any immediate pain, but by the time her shift ended she had tightness in her back.
She went to bed that night, but woke up hours later with pain radiating down her leg from her lower back. The next day she sought medical care and eventually had a MRI which showed stenosis and a condition called bilateral facet arthropathy.
There was no evidence presented at trial that rebutted her version of what happened although the employer tried to argue she was lifting a box not a bag which the Commission felt was of little merit.
It was noted that she had a previous back problem, but the Judges were persuaded by the fact that she testified to working longer hours in the months before this happened and performing additional duties which required her to use muscles she did not previously use on a regular basis. While her complaints were similar to her old problems, the job clearly aggravated the problem to the point where she needed treatment and ended up missing five months of work.
Does any of this sound unreasonable to you? The only part that does to me is the insurance company trying to deny the case, but we deal with this nonsense every day.
What I warn readers and callers is that insurance companies make money by denying cases or limiting what they pay on a case. No matter how nice they seem to be acting to you (or in many cases they are nasty) they are always looking for a reason to deny you even if it is a flimsy one.
Bottom line is that having an old injury doesn’t mean you can’t temporarily aggravate that problem or make the same body part worse with a new accident. It happens and it doesn’t prevent you from getting benefits.
Know your rights and don’t back down based on what the insurance company tells you. They will do whatever they can to not pay. It’s not personal, just business.
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