We’ve blogged before about injuries from having to wear certain footwear (e.g. steel toed boots, high heels) that causes a problem. We’ve also talked about the fact that while the general act of standing or walking at work isn’t a case, it can be if exceptions are met. This includes having to walk long distances (use a distance tracking device to measure this), having to work on uneven ground or when you stand and have to continually pump your feet such as a forklift driver.
A lot of workers wear uncomfortable shoes for their own protection. In one case that was just decided at the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, a worker got injured after having to wear steel toed boots and he lost his case. The reason he lost is important to anyone with a work related injury.
In his case he was given boots by the employer and was offered five to seven different styles to choose from. He didn’t have to use the employer’s vendor, he could also find workable boots on his own and get reimbursed for his payment.
The problem he ran in to is that when his feet began to hurt, he knew it was the boots which were causing the problem. The employer gave him the opportunity to try and make the situation better by getting new boots and he failed to do so.
In plain English, if you know something is injuring you, you can’t keep doing it and hope to win benefits when a better alternative exists. Had he simply tried other boots and still had a problem he likely would have won his case.
It kind of reminds me of when my kids hurt themselves doing something and then go right back to doing the same thing.
This scenario can apply to most repetitive trauma type cases. If you type all day and notice that your wrists are hurting, if you refuse to use a device that will allow you to rest your wrist while you type, you might be killing your own case. If you refuse help when lifting boxes if it’s offered, you might not be able to claim a repetitive trauma back injury.
Bottom line is that nobody wants to be hurt and if you are getting injured and can try to stop it, you have to, at least if you want to get Illinois work comp benefits. This is a rarely used defense, but we want our clients to do everything they can to help their health and do as little as possible to hurt their case. Fill out our contact form or call us at (312) 346-5578 if you have questions about anything Illinois work comp related or need help with your claim.