While it’s not the worst part of the Covid pandemic, Illinois workers’ compensation claims have been affected in many ways due to Coronavirus.  I’m not talking about people who got Covid at work.  We are able to help most of them.  I’m talking about people who have been unable to get medical care after a work injury.

Due to Covid protocols, elective surgeries have been delayed.  I’m not talking about nose jobs or breast implants. Stuff like carpal tunnel, meniscus repair, rotator cuff repair, back fusions, etc. are all usually considered elective procedures.  And of course, those are common surgeries that are needed for people who are injured on the job in Illinois.

We can’t force a medical provider to give you a surgery or move up their schedule. I assure you that they want the money from the procedure and are similarly frustrated by these delays.  While this issue should go away as the vaccine gets rolled out more, there are some things to know if you can’t get surgery for a work-related injury because of Covid.

  1. If you are off work until you recover from the surgery, you should continue to get TTD benefits despite the delay.  We’ve seen some insurance companies try to cut off benefits, but since the delay isn’t your fault, they should continue unless there is light-duty work for you within your restrictions.
  2. You do have a right to a second opinion.  While we don’t recommend that you doctor shop, it’s not against the law to get another opinion or seek the surgery from a physician who is able to perform it when yours can’t.  That said, if you are going to do that, you should get a referral from your current doctor so there’s no risk the bills won’t be paid for exceeding the number of medical opinions you are entitled to.
  3. If you don’t want surgery because you are afraid of getting Covid at the medical facility, you don’t have to get it. In fact, you can never be forced to have a surgery.  If you choose not to have it now, but want it in the fall or whenever things get better, if your doctor says you still need it then, you can get work comp to pay for it at that time.
  4. If you catch Covid from getting a surgery or in general from visiting your doctor, that would be considered part of your injury and you’d be entitled to compensation for it.

This has been a very fluid situation over the last year, but in general, you should know that the law is on the side of Illinois workers with honest, legitimate claims. If you’d like to talk to a lawyer for free to ask questions or get help, you can contact us at any time.