One of the best things about Illinois workers’ compensation law is that you don’t lose your case just because you have a pre-existing condition. This is especially true when you’ve been without medical care from some time. So if you hurt your back six years ago and haven’t seen a back doctor for five years, if today you injure your back at work, an insurance company would get nowhere if they tried to deny your benefits due to a prior problem.
On the other hand, if you hurt your back at home a month ago and have been under a doctor’s care since then, if something happened to you at work today you’d have to be able to prove that the job accident made things much worse. That’s not impossible, but it can be difficult.
Despite many cases that have gone in favor of the injured worker, insurance companies still continue to deny Illinois work injuries because of preexisting conditions and they do it by finding hack doctors who will say that your problems aren’t related to the job, but something that happened a long time ago (wink, wink).
That happened in a recent case that fortunately worked out for the injured worker as most of these do. He was a laborer who did a lot of heavy lifting and noticed blood in his urine after that. He had similar problems three years prior, but had been fine since then. His doctor felt that his need for treatment was do to straining at work while dragging and carrying very heavy objects. The worker also testified that as to what happened and that he had been fine before all of this.
Of course the insurance company found someone who was willing to view the medical records of this worker and said that his problems could have been from any number of daily activities that could place pressure on the prostate.
This consulting doctor was not believed, in part because he made his opinion without a clear understanding of the job duties of the injured worker. Just as we always tell our clients to be specific and detailed with their doctors, it can hurt the insurance company when they only provide vague information.
Bottom line for you is that if you have a preexisting problem you can bet that the insurance company will deny your case, but since they aren’t the final decision makers you should not give up and let them discourage you. That is their goal and the only guaranteed way to lose is by taking legal advice from them. Just because they say you have no case does not make it true.