Here’s an Illinois work comp question we get a lot. “How do I know if my injury is work related?”
Sometimes the answer is simple and obvious. If you have never had back trouble and pick up a box and feel a pop in your back, if that happened at work it’s work related. If you are walking down the hall and slip on a wet floor, tearing your ACL, that’s work related.
A lot of other cases of course aren’t as obvious. What happens if your back is just really sore all of the sudden? How about if you now have numbness and tingling in your wrists and fingers? Maybe you fell at work and felt no pain at the time, but three days later have trouble getting out of bed. Is that workers’ compensation?
Whether it’s an injury from doing repetitive work or from a single incident that doesn’t flare up until days later, there is one major question that needs to be asked. Did your job contribute to you having this problem?
Put another way, if you job caused, aggravated, accelerated or played a role in your injury, then you likely should be receiving Illinois workers comp benefits? The law in Illinois doesn’t say your job has to be the only cause or even the main cause. If your job duties play some sort of role then you are supposed to get benefits.
With the example of a worker who has numbness and tingling in their wrists and fingers, it’s a sign they have carpal tunnel syndrome. One thing that can lead to carpal tunnel is pregnancy. Another thing that can lead to it is typing all day. Both of those things could contribute to your problem and if that’s true then you should get workers’ comp.
Maybe you hurt your back a year ago, but have been feeling good for about six months. One week on the job you do a lot of heavy lifting. By the end of the day on Friday you are really stiff and the next day you can’t get out of bed. An MRI reveals a herniated disc. It’s true you had a pre-existing problem, but also true that your job aggravated that condition. In my opinion, if this happened to you, you’d win a case for Illinois work comp benefits.
Bottom line is that while insurance companies will deny your case for good and bad reasons, don’t take their word for it. If your doctor states that your job duties were a factor in your need for treatment, you should prevail. Make sure when talking to your doctor they have a good understanding of what you do at work and don’t ever assume they know what the law is. We’ve seen tons of cases where a doctor has said an injury isn’t work related only to change their opinion when they realize that the job just has to be a factor, not the only or main one.
This article was first published by Workers Compensation.