The other day we offered tips on what you need to know right away if you are injured on the job in Illinois. Today I’m writing about the most important things to know in the middle of a case. In a few days, I’ll write about what you need to know as settlement gets closer. As always, if you want to talk to an attorney for free, call us at 312-346-5578 or fill out the contact form and we’ll call you. We help with work injuries everywhere in Illinois.
This post assumes you have had an injury that requires six months or more of medical care. These are tips that I think everyone should know. They will give you the best chance of success on your case.
If your injury is serious, you can expect that the insurance company will send a private investigator to tail you at some point. Surveillance is legal under Illinois work comp law. They are looking for signs that you are faking or exaggerating your injury. You can’t stop them from following you. The good news is that it’s expensive and if they don’t catch anything in a few days, they will likely stop. If you are being honest with your doctors and in your daily acts of living, you have nothing to worry about.
You can also expect in a serious injury case that a nurse case manager will be assigned to you. This is a insurance company representative and they are often the most sneaky people around. The worst ones will try to schedule your doctor appointments around their schedule or talk to your doctor directly to try and manipulate your medical care. They don’t have a right to do any of this, but will unless you stop them. Typically one of the first things an attorney will do is put them in their place. They can ask for copies of medical records and bills and that’s it. If they go to far they will often badger physicians in to having you do things that risk your health just so the insurance company can save a few bucks.
It’s really important that you listen to your doctor. If he/she says no lifting over 25 pounds, you can’t go and use the bench press at the gym just because you are feeling good that day. The goal is for you to be better. If you are going to try increased activity, ask for permission first. Also make sure you are communicating with your doctor. If you have problems, tell them. If they say you can’t work, make sure you get an off work slip from them.
You can expect that you will be sent to an independent medical exam or IME at some point. This is a hired gun doctor chosen by the insurance company. They aren’t there to treat you. Their job is to determine if you were hurt at work, what your condition, what future medical care you need and if your medical care is from the job injury. They tend to make money by favoring the insurance company. You don’t want to go in to one of these exams without talking to a lawyer first. In general though, be friendly, honest and don’t exaggerate. There is a good chance the exam will last less than five minutes and they will find against you. That’s part of the work comp process in Illinois and if you have a lawyer you can go to Arbitration to make sure your benefits aren’t denied.
If at any point you are unhappy with your doctor, you do have a right to a second opinion. That said, there are laws that limit you from just hopping from doctor to doctor. Our best advice is that even if you are going to see a new orthopedic doctor, get a referral. Assuming that your family physician referred you to the first orthopedic, you can ask them for a referral to a different facility. Doing so increases the chances that the bills will be paid.
If you have a lawyer, it’s really important that you keep them in the loop. It can be as simple as emailing them after an exam to tell them what the doctor said and to provide them a copy of your off work slip. If we don’t hear from clients we assume they are fine. If your TTD check is late or you are getting bills in the mail, if you don’t tell us, we won’t know about it.
I will talk about settlement in the next post, but in the middle of a case know that the #1 thing is your health and getting treatment for your injury. No attorney can tell you the real value of your case until they know what your ultimate recovery will be.