An open secret about Illinois workers’ compensation law is that insurance companies will deny any case they can. Sometimes they have good reason, other times they just do it in bad faith. Nothing can guarantee that they won’t dispute your claim, but there are some things you can do to limit the possible defenses they may have.
1. Report the injury to the employer ASAP. That doesn’t mean that every time you are sore on the job that you have to tell your boss. But if you feel a pop in your back while lifting, tell someone. If you slip on a wet floor, let them know. While the law gives you up to 45 days to report an accident, the longer you wait, the more likely that some pencil pusher will flag your claim.
2. Get medical treatment right away. If you hurt yourself on January 1st, but don’t see a doctor for the problem for two weeks, it might make someone question if you really got hurt another way. If you don’t see a doctor for three months, it will definitely raise some eyebrows. If you are legitimately hurt, get medical attention sooner rather than later.
3. Make sure the doctor knows how you got hurt. If you slipped on a wet floor at work and twisted your knee, but the doctor’s report says you don’t know how you were injured or were hurt at home, you may lose your case and the insurance company will for sure fight it. It’s your job to tell them how the accident happened and make sure it’s documented.
4. Don’t lie. Sounds simple enough, right? The reality is that some employers will encourage you to say you weren’t hurt at work. Other times injured workers will embellish their injuries. We represent honest people and those that lie put their cases at risk. Just tell the truth, don’t try to create some perfect story.
5. Don’t give a recorded statement. The insurance adjuster will likely ask for one. It’s usually meant to try to trip you in to saying something that can hurt your case. You aren’t required to do this and shouldn’t.
6. Listen to your doctor. If you are given a 20 pound lifting restriction, don’t offer to help a neighbor move. If physical therapy is ordered, make sure you go.
7. Don’t let a nurse case manager interfere with your treatment. This is a person assigned by the insurance company who will try to talk directly to your doctor. That is against the law unless you give them permission. They aren’t doing it to help you. They are doing it to try and limit or eliminate your benefits. You should not consent to that happening.
8. Make sure to get copies off work slips. Your doctor shouldn’t verbally say you can’t work, they need to put it in writing. If they don’t, you won’t receive TTD benefits. And it is your job to provide the insurance company with a copy of that note (or if you have a lawyer, to give it to them).
These are simple tips that cost no money and will protect you. They don’t guarantee anything, but will certainly increase your chances of success. As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. You can always speak with a lawyer for free.