One of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to Illinois workers’ compensation law is lawyers who lie to their clients because it makes their own life easier. It happens all of the time, usually because some attorneys are just lazy and don’t want to have to go to trial. It’s really frustrating.
This happened on a case I recently consulted with. To make matters worse, the attorney the injured worker hired didn’t explain basic Illinois work comp legal principles.
In sum, this worker was injured severely and taken off work by their doctor. The insurance company sent her to an IME appointment. That is a doctor chosen by the insurance company for a one time medical exam. They are often “hired guns.” Predictably, that doctor said she was fine and could return to work.
The caller at first wanted to know about the IME doctor and if they were their doctor. That’s basic information the attorney she hired should have explained before the exam. It’s negligent of them not to.
Their bigger concern was that her lawyer said that even though her doctor thinks she’s at big risk of severe injury if she returns to work right now that they should follow the IME doctor and give it a try. He went on to tell her that if she doesn’t return to work, she will lose her right to have a claim at all.
That is a HUGE lie and one of the worst ones I’ve ever heard. Not only are they not fighting for their client, but their lie is putting them at risk for a real significant medical problem.
The reason the lawyer would do this is because when two doctors disagree about a workers ability to work, you solve that problem with an arbitration. It’s not a complicated process, but it does take some time as each doctor has to be deposed. This will also cost the attorney some money as you have to pay the doctor for their time and pay court reporters. It’s not a huge amount, especially in a big injury case like this. It’s usually around $3,500 or so. After that, once all medical records are properly subpoenaed you can go to trial.
The reason this type of lie is maddening is it’s literally the job of the attorney to go to arbitration if things aren’t going well. If you don’t want to do that then you should go find another career.
So while I recommend that you review the IME report for what they said and have a discussion with your attorney about it, not following the IME won’t prevent you from having a right to a case. Any any lawyer who says otherwise is a lazy liar.