About six weeks ago when Coronavirus started to rock our worlds in Illinois, we wrote a blog post about how COVID 19 will affect Illinois workers’ compensation cases. The last thing mentioned is that we don’t know what we aren’t thinking of. This is a new situation for everyone. One thing that clearly wasn’t anticipated was how hard it would be for some workers to get in to see a doctor at all.
It’s not a surprise that elective surgeries aren’t happening. And it makes sense that you aren’t going to go to an ER like Rush University Hospital where a lot of patients are being treated. What was not forseen is that even in smaller cities like Decatur, people are having trouble getting in to see physicians beyond the ones that are company clinics.
When you can’t get in to see a doctor, your condition can get worse and you can’t get an off work slip which means that you won’t get any TTD benefits even if you aren’t working. These are obviously two huge problems. With the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission mostly closed, some workers can get screwed.
So is there a solution to this problem?
There is. While generally speaking we don’t recommend that you let your attorney dictate what doctor to see, in these tough times if you can’t find a good doctor, most lawyers will know of someone good to refer you to. You are allowed to choose your own physician. It’s important to have someone in your corner who will give you an honest medical opinion and help you get better.
If you can’t go to an ER, there’s nothing wrong with going to a community clinic for your first visit. If you have a back, knee, arm, foot or wrist injury, seeing an orthopedic doctor is the way to go. While they might not be able to do a surgery for you (they might if your condition is really serious), they can usually treat you and refer you to physical therapy. They can also give epidural steroid injections which can usually provide significant relief even if it’s temporary.
A good, experienced Illinois work comp attorney will also work with the insurance company to make sure that you are able to get the care you need and that bills will be paid. There are cases that have said if you delay your medical care, it can affect your right to benefits. COVID will surely create some exceptions to this rule, but we highly suggest that you document your attempts to get treatment. Saying “I didn’t go to the doctor because I was worried about Coronavirus” will likely not be enough to sway an Arbitrator.
Bottom line is that it is harder to get in to a doctor now compared to normal. It is harder to get a surgery. But none of this is impossible. Even if you can’t get a surgery now, you can get one on the schedule in most cases. Like always, you have to look out for you and of course it helps if your lawyer looks out for you too. If you want to speak with one of our attorneys for free, contact us at any time.