A recent caller had a story that I hear all to often.
She had hurt her back at work in Chicago and reported the injury right away. She went to the doctor and talked to the work comp insurance adjuster who told her, without any good reason, that her case was going to be denied.
This woman does not have health insurance through her job and can’t afford to pay the bills out of pocket. So she persisted off of pain meds, hot baths and ice packs until finally, after six months, the pain is too much to bear.
She called me now wanting to file a workers’ compensation claim and wondered if it’s too late or not?
Legally speaking it’s not too late, but when you delay treatment or have a big gap in care, it makes your case much harder to prove. The defense to a case like this will be that if you were really injured you would have continued with medical care and the fact that you haven’t been to the doctor for so long points to the real cause being you hurt yourself outside of work.
I know that this woman is telling the truth because as I said, her story isn’t unique. Health care in the US generally sucks so people without insurance do what she did all the time. Sadly it makes their mild injuries often much worse.
So what’s the legal lesson from all of this:
1. Try not to delay your care. If you were hurt on the job and your case is denied, call us at (312) 346-5578 to talk about it for free. If we think your case is a good one, we often can get adjusters to start benefits or in the least we can often recommend doctors who will work with you.
2. If your care has been delayed, don’t wait any more as your health is too important.
3. To win a case when you have a gap in treatment, you need to give your doctor a clear history of how you got hurt, why you delayed your care and they need to state that your current condition is related to the job accident. Without that winning is going to be an up hill battle.
4. If you do have a workers’ compensation case in Illinois, 100% of your medical bills are paid for. So not having insurance should never be a reason you don’t get medical care.
5. In many cases, you hurt a body part like your back in a specific incident (e.g. lifting a box) and then continue to work. It can be argued that if you continue to do a lot of lifting in the following months that you have a repetitive trauma injury and the lack of medical care shouldn’t hurt you.
Big picture is that you need to figure out what your legal rights and options are. Contact us any time if you want to discuss it. We don’t promise you a result, but do promise to give a hard look at your case and offer direct, blunt, plain English and free guidance.