A Union pipe fitter in Chicago called me with questions about his back and shoulder injuries. He had been in the trade for over 20 years and while he had never filed a workers’ compensation claim, his body was starting to break down from all of the work.

Due to the nature of his job, he’s worked for a lot of different employers over the years.  Some jobs lasted many months and at times he was on the job for just a few weeks.  He isn’t saying he got hurt on a specific day, but instead that the day in and day out activities of his heavy duty job have broken his body down.

His very good question was how far back can he go to bring a case and which employer should the case be against?

The answer depends on when he first made the connection to his job being the cause or a contributing factor to his problems.  Most likely the employer at that time is the one who the case should be brought against.  That can be tricky though because this is usually proven by a doctor tying it up for you or at least you seeing a doctor.

What makes no sense to some people is the fact that when you’ve worked for all of these different companies for many years, it’s usually the last one who you bring the case against.  In other words, his back and shoulder have been put under stress for many years by all of these jobs.  If he didn’t report a problem or seek medical care until the current employer then all of the previous ones are off the hook.  The case would be against the company he last worked for.

In some ways this is unfair as you could be with one employer for two years doing heavy work and then go to another for two months. If you don’t get treatment until you start with the second company, the case would be against them even though you spent a much longer time with the first company.

Bottom line is that you shouldn’t worry about who the case might be against. That is something your lawyer should figure out for you. The most important things for you to do are to get medical treatment, tell your doctor about your job duties and how you think they are contributing to your problem and make sure whichever employer you are working for at that time is aware of the issue.

I get that this can be confusing. If you have any questions you can always call us for free at 312-346-5578. Through our state wide network of experienced lawyers we handle claims everywhere in Illinois.