I don’t usually get questions I haven’t heard before, but it happens. A reader of my blog contacted me with a question I haven’t been asked in my 24 years of being a workers’ compensation lawyer. He wanted to know:
If my employer wants me to go back to work after a work related injury, who is the first person informed? Me, the doctor, someone else??? Do I need a lawyer if I’m not able to work?
I’ve never had an injured worker phrase this concern this way before. While it’s great that the employer wants him to go back to work, what they want doesn’t matter. What does matter is what your doctor says. They are the ones qualified to tell you what is really wrong with you and they should be independent and looking out for you, at least in theory.
Your employer, the insurance company, and other people who aren’t medical doctors are sure to have opinions about what really is wrong with you medically or should be wrong with you medically. What they think is irrelevant. They can’t provide medical opinions and they certainly aren’t independent.
The way the employer has been pressuring this guy, who has a serious leg injury, made him say to me, “I wish I never even started workers compensation.” I get his frustration, but the real problem is that he’s been abused and taken advantage of and hasn’t had anyone to stand up for him, at least not until now.
The bottom line is that your employer can’t tell you to go back to work if your doctor says differently. That’s how it is in Illinois. It can be scary to face that pressure, but it gets easier when you know what the law is, understand your rights and have someone in your corner backing you up.
The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act exists to protect the right of injured workers. It’s for the most part straightforward. If you are injured on the job and a doctor doesn’t think you can work or that you need restrictions, it has to be listened to. Any “tough guy” who thinks you should be working even when doing so can make your injury worse has no say in the matter. It happens all of the time, but the law is on the side of honest people.
If you have questions, we will provide a free consultation with an attorney any time. Fill out our contact form or call us at 312-346-5578. We cover all of Illinois.