If you’ve ever been hurt, whether on the job in Illinois or not, you know that a serious injury can lead to other issues. For example, if you break your leg and are using crutches, you might develop an elbow injury. If you have trouble lifting with your right arm and overuse the left, it’s possible that you will then develop a left arm injury.
When the first injury happens due to a work accident in Illinois, the second injury can get covered under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. And it can be covered even if you get hurt at home. The test we use to determine if it should is called the “but for” test.
In plain English, this means we need to be able to say that if it wasn’t for the work-related injury, you wouldn’t have had the second injury. A recent case shows how this gets applied in real life.
In that one, a worker at a cement contracting company had an undisputed work-related accident that resulted in two ankle surgeries. While recovering at home from the second surgery he was walking up the stairs when he felt a sharp pain in his left ankle. Per his testimony at trial, this caused him to fall forward and injure his low back. At the time of the fall, he was wearing a CAM boot due to the second surgery.
He received treatment for his back, but the insurance company disputed the case. The Illinois Workers Compensation Commission found in his favor noting “but for” the original injury which led to ankle surgery, he wouldn’t have been wearing the boot, wouldn’t have had ankle pain, and wouldn’t have fallen. So they ordered that the employer through their insurance company pay for the back surgery that he now needed.
These types of second injuries happen all of the time, but sadly many of them don’t get handled by workers comp. Sometimes that is because the injured workers don’t know they have that right. Other times attorneys aren’t experienced enough to know that it can be a part of the case. And worst of all, some lawyers know it should be part of the case, but don’t want to make an otherwise clean case messy.
In this case, the injured worker is going to end up with tens of thousands more in their pocket and a fixed back because their lawyer fought for them. It’s a really big deal.
Bottom line is that even if you are hurt at home, if it wouldn’t have happened “but for” the original work accident, you can add that to your case. And you should.
And of course, if you have any questions about this, you can call us for free at any time at 312-346-5320 to speak with a lawyer.