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Working as a millwright is one of the most dangerous jobs out there. They are some of the most skilled tradesmen out there and that skill leads them to be put in many situations that can lead to a work injury. It’s very heavy duty work that involves installing machinery, lifting a lot of heavy equipment, using a lot of tools and quite often working in small areas with a lot of bending, stooping, etc. They may also be asked to do the jobs of other professions such as welding or transportation.
It’s not surprising that millwrights would have one off injuries such as lifting a heavy box and having your back go out on you. They also have a lot of repetitive trauma injuries from doing the same activities over and over.
Despite the fact that these jobs are so physically demanding, insurance companies in Illinois work comp cases love to fight repetitive trauma claims. Millwrights are no exception.
In a recent Court case, a millwright had been doing his heavy duty job since 1991. Most of his work was with power tools at or above shoulder level. In 2017 he sought treatment for shoulder pain and in 2018 he had a right shoulder replacement.
Under Illinois law, if you believe that his job contributed to his shoulder problem, he should get work comp benefits. That doesn’t mean it’s the only cause, just a contributing clause. Can anyone say with a straight face that 26 years of lifting, maintaining transmissions and hydraulic systems, continuously working overhead and constantly using power tools didn’t cause any wear and tear? Of course not, but that didn’t stop the insurance company from denying his benefits and forcing him to trial.
And of course the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission found in his favor. He credibly testified that about 60% of his work was repetitive and at or above shoulder level working on large, industrial machinery. The insurance company gave the IME doctor an inaccurate description of what the actual job duties are and of course that hired gun didn’t try to find out the truth from the worker. In fact the millwright testified that he tried to make clear what his actual job duties were and the IME doctor would not allow him to talk. Even though he was a millwright, the IME doctor didn’t know or believe that he did activities that put stress on his shoulder.
And the treating doctor did know what the real job duties were and testified that the repetitive duties aggravated the underlying arthritic condition that he had.
So ultimately this millwright won his case, but I’m sure that he has a terrible view of the legal system. He had to go through a battle because the insurance company gave out false information and essentially tried to frustrate him out of pursuing a case.
The bottom line is that insurance companies will fight cases they shouldn’t especially when you have a serious injury like this one. Their philosophy is that if they lose the case it doesn’t cost them much because they are just paying what they owed anyway. It’s sad but true and all the reason why you need a lawyer who knows how to win trials in your corner in case it comes to that.