As lawyers representing injured workers in Illinois, we watch hard working, honest, decent, perfectly sensible people get caught up in various legal “snags, traps and snares.” These technicalities can cheat an injured worker who does the right thing and tells the truth out of wage protection benefits and medical care.
By following these simple suggestions below, you can protect yourself against innocent mistakes that can instantly tie your claim in knots.
- If you do not report your accident to the company right away, you can lose all your rights. Notify a manager or supervisor about your injury immediately.
- For Repetitive Trauma injuries (tennis elbow, carpal tunnel, etc., explain to your employer that overuse at your regular job causes you pain.
- Complete a written accident report immediately. Give the accident report to a manager or supervisor. Try to keep a copy.
- Go to a hospital emergency room, or see your own family doctor immediately. Always tell every doctor how you got hurt at work, where you hurt and why. Be consistent and be specific.
- Make sure every doctor writes down what you say in the medical records.
- Do not stop going to your doctor until you are 200% sure you have completely recovered. Make monthly or weekly follow-up appointments until you are sure. Once you stop treating, you will have great difficulty getting the insurance company to restart paying for your medical care.
- By law, the company’s doctor can examine you. Tell them how you got hurt at work, butnever let a company doctor try to treat or fix your injury (prescriptions, therapy, referrals, tests, etc.). Do not forget who writes the company doctor’s paycheck.
- Obviously, if you need emergency medical care, accept it from the first doctor you see no matter what. Otherwise, always get all treatment from your own doctor.
- Start a diary, keep a file. Make a record of all conversations and appointments with doctors, company representatives, witnesses, etc., and keep track of all hours you lose from your job. Put all appointment cards, letters, receipts, and bills in one place. Do not throw anything away.
- Get a duty-status note from your doctor, every time! You are entitled to disability pay (“TTD” or “TPD”) under the law if your injury prevents you from working your regular job. However, unless you have signed doctor’s note for all the regular work you miss, the Company will not pay this benefit. You must cover every hour you miss from work with a written doctor’s excuse for as long as you are off regular duty.
- Immediately after every appointment, take your signed doctor’s order excusing your absence or detailing your work restrictions right to the Company. This is the only way to keep yourself paid right while you are off work or working light duty.
- File your claim with the Illinois Workers Compensation Commission within three years of your injury date, or you lose your rights forever. Completing an accident report, or signing insurance forms for the company nurse or safety director is not the same as officially filing an enforceable legal claim that protects all your rights. Do not delay and do not be fooled.Three years + just one day = you lose!
- Contact your Union or Elfenbaum Evers & Amarilio at 312-226-2650 for a free legal consultation.
You don’t have to fight alone!