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I’ve been an a work comp attorney since 1997 and after a while you begin to notice trends in how insurance companies try to screw over workers. I’ve noticed one lately in relation to injured UPS workers that have called or emailed us for legal guidance.
In Illinois, UPS claims are administered by Liberty Mutual. They basically act as the agent for UPS who pays out the claims. Liberty Mutual is of course motivated to pay as little as possible to injured workers because they don’t want to lose such a big client.
The trend we’ve noticed is that a driver, sorter or other worker has a very straight forward injury. Often it’s back injury from lifting a box or some sort of slip and fall. The worker does the honest thing and reports the accident to a supervisor and gets medical treatment. The worker will send off work slips to Liberty Mutual and expect to be paid for their time off work because that’s the law.
These scenarios are very common and straight forward. But what happens next is that the employee gets a letter in the mail saying their claim can’t be approved because Liberty Mutual doesn’t have documentation to support the claim.
Huh? Why would this happen? You sent in the documentation and have verbally given information to them and your supervisor. How could they not have documentation?
It’s all bullshit of course. They either have the documents they need or are not trying to get them. Maybe there is a form they need from your boss that they don’t have. Well, if they don’t ask for that form, they won’t have it. If they don’t scan your off work slip it won’t be in the official file. It could be a lot of different “reasons” but in my experience they are almost always nonsense.
In a normal, fair world, they’d seek out the right documentation so they can meet their obligation under the law. But their obligation isn’t to the law or to your health, it’s to making sure they minimize what they pay out on cases. So if they can frustrate you, maybe you’ll quit your job, maybe you’ll treat your injury with pain meds, maybe you’ll use your group health insurance. All of these things hurt you and help them.
It isn’t personal, it’s just business. And lately it seems to be the strategy of the day, especially when a worker doesn’t have a history of bringing claims and there isn’t an obvious reason to deny you. They know that if you know your rights, you won’t let them get away with this.
The good news is that it’s a solvable problem and once a lawyer gets involved the b.s. denials and delays usually stop. It’s dumb that it has to come to that, but that’s the reality of Illinois work comp law.