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We have been involved in a lot of claims against Ford Motor Company in Illinois for work injuries. I just read about a case against them (that we didn’t handle) which is a great example of how Illinois work comp law works with pre-existing conditions.
Ford Motor workers have a lot of injuries. There is a lot of lifting and repetitive movement and that’s a recipe for accidents and injuries. In this case, the worker had a long term knee problem and had even talked to his doctor about getting a knee replacement some day. He worked as an assembler in the body shop and ended up slipping on a part that was on the floor.
The case was denied because of the pre-existing problems. At trial he testified that when he stepped on the part he heard a pop and felt pain in his knee. He did some physical therapy which didn’t help and then his doctor recommended a total knee arthroplasty (knee replacement).
The case came down to the treating doctor stating that even though there was osteoarthritis in the knee already, the worker was able to work full duty up until the accident at which time his problems were aggravated causing him not to be able to work anymore.
The reason this Ford worker won his case is that there was a sudden change in his ability to work. If your job aggravates or accelerates a problem you were already dealing with, you are entitled to benefits under Illinois law. It certainly helped that while he had problems before, he hadn’t received any treatment in a couple of years, passed a work physical and sought medical attention right away.
What we would emphasize to you is that you shouldn’t be surprised if your case gets denied, especially if you have a history of injuries to the same body part or if you work at a place like Ford Motor where a lot of accidents occur. They don’t want workers to think that these cases are easy so one way to discourage claims is to fight them whenever they can.