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One of the most common Illinois workers’ compensation questions we get is, “Do I have a case?” The answer of course depends on the facts about how you got injured. This is especially true when people get hurt after falling on their job.
It’s not enough to say you were at work when you got hurt if you want to have a case. You have to show something about the job increased your risk of having an injury.
Take for example a recent caller to my office. She was working outside and tripped over a small hole and ended up fracturing her ankle. Her job duties required her to be outside. The hole was on the company’s property. She couldn’t see the hole because she was carrying work items. All of those things increased her risk of getting hurt. She has what appears to be a very strong case.
On the other hand, if she wasn’t paying attention and her feet got tangled up with each other, it’s likely she wouldn’t have a claim. If she was walking down the stairs and slipped because they were wet it would be a good case, but if she has no idea why she fell then she’d be out of luck.
The biggest way Illinois workers lose out when they fall at work is that they are in so much pain they don’t realize why they fell. If your ankle breaks or you tear your ACL, it can’t be expected that you’d calmly look around and figure out why you fell. But if you did fall, there are some things you can do to protect yourself.
1. When you can, think about what you were doing before it happened. Were you carrying work items? Were you rushing? Was there something wrong that caused you to fall? All of these things can help your case if they are true. If stairs are slippery, you don’t have to know what substance you fell on, but must know it was something.
2. If you are able to, head back to the scene of the accident after you get medical care. Perhaps you will find nothing, but you may see that there is still a wet floor or a leaky roof or some other defect. If that’s the case it increases your chances of success.
3. Do not under any circumstances give a recorded statement. It’s very likely the insurance adjuster will ask for this and might even say that can’t process your claim without one or that it’s just for training purposes. This is not true. You do not have to give a statement no matter what they say and refusing to give one won’t cause you to lose your Illinois work comp rights. They can ask an innocent question like, “Is it correct that you don’t know what caused you to fall?” If you say yes, but mean “Yes I don’t know, but it was something slippery,” your lack of an explanation could cause you to lose the case. They are trained to ask questions that will twist your words in a way that can harm you.
These cases get fought by insurance companies more often than they should. If you have any questions or want help with a case, please call us for free any time.