To be honest, if you have a legitimate injury, the Illinois work comp system is one of the best for employees in the country. Our benefit rates are high, you are able to choose your own doctor and when the case is over you are likely able to get a good settlement.
This doesn’t mean that insurance companies can’t dispute or investigate claims. They can and do. One of the most common tactics is for them to send an injured worker to an independent medical exam or IME. This is not a doctor looking out for you. Instead they review your medical records and meet with you to answer questions posed to them by the insurance company.
Each case varies, but the two most common questions are was this person hurt at work and can they return to work?
Some of these doctors are just hired guns who only care about making a lot of money from doing these exams. Depending on the case, it can be difficult for even the biggest whore of a doctor to say you weren’t hurt at work. If you get hit by a forklift and break your leg, it’s not something that can really be disputed. What does happen a lot is these doctors state that you are fine to return to work even though your orthopedic doctor says that you aren’t ready.
So what happens when the IME doctor says you can work and your doctor says otherwise?
Well, you are left with some choices:
1. You can try to go back to work. Whether or not we’d recommend that depends on the severity of your injury and your financial situation. The reality though is that even with an IME report that says you are OK, some companies won’t take you back if your doctor doesn’t release you. If that happens you should continue to receive TTD benefits. If you do go back and give it a good faith try, but have pain, we recommend you immediately notify a supervisor and go see your doctor.
2. You can refuse to go back and go to trial. Injured workers in Illinois are allowed to listen to their doctor. If yours says you can’t work and articulates why, most Arbitrators will favor them over an IME, especially if the IME doctor has a reputation as a hired gun. The good is that you’d get paid back all of your missed time if you win. The bad is that a win isn’t guaranteed and this could leave you without income for some time.
What the right choice is for you depends on the unique facts of your case and your personal situation. If you are facing this dilemma, we highly recommend that you speak with a lawyer who has years of experience with similar situations. If you want to speak with one of our lawyers for free, you can call or email any time. We cover all of Illinois.