A Heavy Load to Lift

You were injured on the job, lifting a set of 65 pound boxes of medical equipment ready for shipment. Your supervisor told you it was a rush order to a key customer. Usually, it’s no problem for you to lift that weight. You work out regularly to stay fit. But, these were oddly shaped and hard to balance. And, you were hurrying to meet that deadline.

An Injury that Won’t Go Away

You’d kept hoping for the best because you didn’t want to make your new employer upset by complaining. But after more than a month of no success with toughing it out, you realize that it’s not going to go away. You’ve had too many sleepless nights because you can’t roll over without excruciating pain, and the pain gets worse if you have to drive or sit for longer than half an hour. Your finally tell your employer about it, and they say they’ll file an accident report with Illinois Workers’ Compensation. But the next day, they tell you they’re disputing it. What went wrong?

There are a number of possible reasons your employer is denying responsibility for the injury:

  • Your employer hasn’t received correct notice of the injury. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Handbook states that the notice can be written or oral, but must include the approximate date and place of the accident or injury (Handbook, Section 2.2, Page 5).
  • Notice to your employer wasn’t given on time. The law in Illinois requires that claims be filed within 45 days of the injury. A delay in the notice to the employer can delay the payment of benefits (Handbook, Section 2.3, Page 5).
  • A worker’s compensation claim hasn’t yet been officially filed with the Illinois Workers Compensation Commission. Just because your employer filed an accident report doesn’t qualify as them filing a claim. If your employer has refused to pay medical expenses for you, you will need to file a claim with the Commission (Handbook, Section 2.9, Page 6).
  • Even if your employer is paying medical expenses for you, it is often to file a claim with the Commission to ensure that you’ll receive the benefits you’re entitled to (Section 3.6, Page 8).
  • Your employer doesn’t believe that it is work-related. You’ll need to gather additional evidence about what you were doing at work that you believe caused the injury.
  • It’s a back injury and they’re claiming it really happened at your previous job. However, it is always the most recent employer that is responsible.
  • Your employer is claiming that you injured yourself lifting at home, or at the gym, not lifting at work. They know you work out and say you likely injured yourself there. You had also mentioned to them that you and your wife were still unpacking boxes after your recent move. They claim that lifting and unpacking the boxes caused it, too. However, to have a valid worker’s comp claim, it doesn’t have to be the only cause of the injury. It could be one of several causes.
  • They don’t want to pay. If they are able to successfully deny a claim, it will decrease their insurance costs and possible liability.
  • The employer isn’t carrying workers’ compensation insurance. By law, your employer is required to carry this type of insurance. If an employee learns that his employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance he should notify the Commission’s Insurance Compliance Division at inscompquestions.wcc@illinois.gov or at the toll free number 866-352-3033 (Handbook, Section 1.10, Page 4).
  • You’re now wondering if you can be fired for filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim. It is against the law for an employer to harass, discriminate, discharge, or refuse to rehire an employee who filed a claim (Workbook, Section 2.10, Page 7).

If you need help with the process of filing a workers’ compensation claim or knowing how to handle your employer’s denial of your claim, contact us. An experienced workers’ comp attorney can protect your benefits and ensure that the forms are correctly filed, the status dates aren’t forgotten, the evidence is prepared for the hearings, and that any proposed settlement is really in your best interest.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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