They say the only sure things in life are death and taxes. But now that I’m 48, I know that the third sure thing is arthritis. You might have a mild case, but as you get older you will likely get swelling or tenderness in one of your joints. That’s arthritis. You wake up and your neck is stiff or your back is sore for no reason.
When it comes to Illinois workers comp cases, insurance companies love to use arthritis as a reason for denying your case. You hurt your back lifting a patient??? That’s not work comp, that’s arthritis they like to say. Your shoulder needs treatment and you lift over your head all day? They will say it’s arthritis, not work comp.
Basically it comes down to them saying you weren’t hurt at work, you have a pre-existing condition that was temporarily aggravated. They want the court to believe that even though you weren’t in the need of treatment until you had the work accident, what happened at work was just a temporary problem.
The reality is that a pre-existing condition does not bar you from getting Illinois workers’ compensation benefits. If your job aggravates or accelerates an existing problem then you should be covered.
It really can be frustrating. For most workers we’ve helped they’ve never even known they have arthritis or if they did they didn’t think about it. You’ll see crazy defenses where an insurance company gets a hired gun doctor to say your back pain isn’t from working construction all day, it’s actually because you were in a car accident 15 years ago. It’s nonsense, but if it works even one out of ten times, it’s a huge victory for them.
This is a way different scenario than someone who’s been treating for a chronic problem and then says after a couple of years it’s the job that made it worse. That could be a case, but is no slam dunk. But to say someone who hasn’t either been to a doctor ever or in many months/years for a problem wasn’t really hurt at work is just b.s.
The good news is that we almost always prevail on these cases. The bad news is that there are enough shady doctors who will tell the insurance company what they want to hear that you might have to jump through some hoops before you win the case. For a work comp insurance company, they are trying to save money however they can, even if it they are clearly in the wrong and it’s at your expense.