I recently had a consultation with a Chicago construction worker who has a back injury. Long story short is that he does a lot of lifting and due to the many years of hard work, the cushioning between his vertebrae has gone away, a condition known as spondylosis. In plain English, his back is in pain and not only is it caused by his job, it’s not getting better.
He did the smart thing and saw an orthopedic doctor. That doctor was blunt like me and told him that he can decrease the pain to the point where he can return to work, but as soon as he does the job again, the pain is all going to come back and it’s going to continue to get worse.
In other words, this caller, who has done nothing but heavy labor for over 30 years, can not continue to work in construction. So what is he supposed to do?
The law in Illinois is strong for workers in cases like this. There is no time limit for how long you can receive workers’ compensation benefits. So if he’s unable to do his job or has restrictions that can’t be accommodated (which happens a lot on construction sites because if you can’t lift, you are often not employable) they have to pay him Illinois work comp benefits.
In the long run if he’ll not be allowed back to the job due to his injury, the insurance company has to pay for vocational rehabilitation which is a process designed to help you find a new job within your physical restrictions so you can work and make a living without a risk of continuous re-injury. If your new job pays less than your old job, you can get 2/3 of the difference until you are 65.
The bottom line of all this as I told the caller is that you can’t be forced back in to a job that your doctor feels is going to keep on making your condition worse. You don’t have to choose between supporting your family and risking being in a wheel chair.
This of course is a good, common sense law. Insurance companies will still try to fight you by saying that you really aren’t that hurt or finding a doctor who will dispute the extent of your injury. The good news is that if you are credible and your doctor is credible almost every Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission Arbitrator will find in your favor in these scenarios.
If you have any questions about returning to work or anything else, call us at (312) 346-5578 or fill out the contact form to the right. Our Illinois wide network covers the entire state and we would be happy to help you.