Years ago there was an article in a downstate newspaper that had a big impact on the Illinois Workers’ Compensation system. While I hate the term, it was a bit of “fake news” as it painted a picture that State of Illinois employees were faking work related injuries and there was a focus on how many of them had been diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome.
As a result, the next time there were reforms to the work comp system, a cap was put in place as to what carpal tunnel claims can be worth. It was really a bunch of nonsense as many of these workers were prison guards who multiple times a day had to turn a wheel on a very heavy prison door. The force and torque required to turn these wheels put a lot of pressure on the wrists which of course eventually lead to an injury for many of them.
After this article it was believed that if you worked for the State of Illinois you couldn’t win a case. It is true that after this all happened there were a bunch of trials where the workers lost. Arbitrators seemed to feel the pressure of the press and politics in general.
Now that many years have passed, things seem back to normal and the good news is that cases are being decided on their merits as they should be, not based on who you work for.
In fact in a recent Court decision, an Illinois State employee who does web design was able to win a claim for carpal tunnel benefits. He credibly testified that he typed seven hours a day, five days a week and some weekends. He explained the manner in which he did his work and flexes his wrists while typing. His doctor was found to be credible and felt that his work activities aggravated his condition.
Of course the State found a hired gun IME doctor to say that his problems weren’t work related, but as often is the case with IME doctors, this one didn’t do a thorough job. He didn’t reference the extent of work done by the claimant or the manner in which he did the work. The injured worker testified that the IME doctor never asked him about the time he spent on the computer.
I don’t know who the lawyer was on this case, but they appear to have done a great job. They prepared their client and his doctor with the right questions and they poked serious holes in the story of the IME doctor.
I’ve had State workers tell me that winning work comp for them is impossible and the bottom line is that’s not true. If you have good facts and are credible you will win whether they fight you or not.
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