Illinois Two Doctor Rule in Worker Compensation Cases

Posted: July 17th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

two doctor rule, Illinois workers' compensation lawyer, your rightsAccording to Illinois workers’ compensation law, if you are injured in a work-related accident, you have the right to choose your own doctor, as well as any other doctors you are referred to, for treatment. Injured workers actually have the right in Illinois to choose two doctors. This is called the “two doctor rule.”

Many companies try to get the injured employee to go to either the company clinic or a doctor that has a contract with the company. This is done with the idea to keep the company costs down, but it is usually not the best choice for the injured employee. If there is a doctor on the company’s premise that you see when you are injured, this is not usually considered your first choice. However, if you initially go to a doctor at the company clinic, it may or may not be considered your first choice, depending on just how agreeable you were to the visit. An initial visit to emergency rooms when you are injured is also not considered your first choice.

A recent case that was brought before the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission highlights just how important the two doctor rule can be to protecting the rights of an injured worker.

The case involved a man who was employed as a carpenter for a remodeling company. The man injured his back while moving a large pile of group studs. The man’s supervisor insisted on driving him to a chiropractic clinic, despite the man’s wish to go to a different doctor. The visit to the chiropractor failed to relieve the man’s symptoms, and three days later he went to the emergency room with severe lower back pain.

The emergency room doctor advised him to make a follow up appointment with his primary care physician. Instead, he went to another physician, who was not his primary care doctor and for which he did not have a referral for, and was diagnosed with bulging disk. The man eventually had to undergo surgery for his injury when other treatment methods fail to produce any relieve.

The commission ruled that the initial visit to the chiropractor was not the man’s first choice of doctor and neither was the emergency room physician the man saw. Although he did not have a referral to go to the physician who he did choose to see, the commission ruled that this physician was the man’s first choice and awarded the man 65 weeks of total disability, as well as $110,666.50 in medical expenses.

If you have been injured on the job, contact an experienced Illinois workers’ compensation attorney to find out what civil recourse you may have for compensation for pain and loss you’ve suffered.


A Dirty Work Environment Could Increase Explosion Risk

Posted: June 30th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Construction Accident, Illinois workers comp, Personal Injury, Workers compensation attorney | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

explosion, workers' compensation, Chicago lawyer, Illinois workers' compensation attorneyWhen many people think of hazardous working conditions, the first things that come to mind are the careers of law enforcement, firemen, members of the armed forces and construction workers. Many think of common dangers in these career paths that can cause injury.

As reported by Mother Jones, the hazardous condition that employees faced at Hoeganaes Corporation was a dirty work environment, which caused several explosions. Dangerous explosions can lead to workers’ compensation claims.

The company is a metal powder plant that provides the iron powder to vendors such as car part makers. According to several earlier reports, employees have complained about the hazardous coating of powder covering surfaces all over the plant. Workers have even reported that they had become accustomed to putting out small fires quite frequently with extinguishers and even their gloved hands. This inattentiveness to previous warnings ended with an accident where a worker was engulfed in flames. According to Mother Jones, he was burned over 95 percent of his body, and died in the hospital two days later.

While many jobs that have hazards involved, it is the employer’s responsibility to provide the employee with a safe place to work as well as the knowledge and tools to do their job safely. When the employer does not provide a clean workplace or does not heed warnings, this can result in injury to the workers. This is the basis of many workers’ compensation claims.

It seems that it would be a clear cut case and the worker would be justly compensated for injuries. However, this is not always the case. You have to be able to prove that you did everything right and that you do not share in any of the negligence when it comes to your injury. You will also have to go through medical testing and examination. This can be a scary and stressful process, but a necessary one to receive the money that you deserve. You have a better chance of winning your case with the assistance of an experienced Illinois workers’ compensation lawyer.


Ladders Cause Deadly Falls

Posted: June 17th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Construction Accident, Construction Workers, Illinois workers comp, Ladder Fall Injury | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

ladder safety, CDC, construction accident, lawyer, ladder fall, attorney, workers compensationAs summer approaches, construction and repair workers can be found in increasing numbers across Illinois perched on ladders to complete their work. New research from the Centers for Disease Control says that a ladder fall on the job can cause injury or death, and they may make up a significant portion of preventable workers’ compensation claims.

Ladder Falls can be Deadly

According to their data analysis, which was recently published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, nearly half of all falls that have resulted in death in the last ten years involved a ladder. Ladders are a critical source of unintended injuries on worksites, especially in the construction industry.

Although ladders are risky for use in the home, professionals can find themselves the victims of critical on-the-job injuries involving ladders. More than 80 percent of emergency hospital visits for fall incidents in the workplace were linked to ladder usage.

OSHA places certain regulations on any employer whose employees perform work at heights, although in an accident, the height of the ladder is not the most important factor. According to the CDC research, more than 45 percent of all ladder fatalities happened when the fall was between six and fifteen feet.

Ladder falls were most common in extraction and construction industries, and the smallest companies had the highest rates of ladder injuries. It is up to employers whose employees work on scaffolding or ladders to educate their employees on safety and proper use of equipment, as well as to inspect the equipment and ensure that it is up to regulations.

Preventing Ladder Accidents

Employers can do a lot to prevent the prevalence of injuries in the workplace by properly educating all workers about ladder safety. Many people underestimate the impact of a ladder fall from a shorter height, but safety precautions and education can help to improve workplace safety and reduce devastating injuries or deaths.

Both portable and extension ladders pose different safety hazards to employees. A new app from the CDC is meant to increase ladder safety for anyone with a smartphone who is using an extension ladder. The free app allows  the user to ensure the ladder is set at the correct angle to safely be used, and provides ladder safety tips to the user.

Contacting an Attorney

In some cases, if you have sustained an injury from a ladder fall at work, you may be eligible for compensation. If your loved one has been killed, your family may be eligible for compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit. Contact an Illinois workers’ compensation attorney who can explain your rights today.


Case Highlights Light-Duty Work Notification Requirements

Posted: May 31st, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Illinois workers comp, Workers Comp, Workers Comp Benefits, Workers compensation attorney, Workers Compensation Insurance | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

workers comp, workers' compensation, Illinois employee lawyer, Illinois attorneyIn the recent Marion v. Select Staffing case, an arbitrator’s temporary total disability award was decreased from 144 weeks to 111 weeks. This change happened when the claimant was released to light-duty work and failed to contact the defendant about whether she could return to work in a position that met her restrictions. Light duty work is an important factor to be informed about in workers’ compensation cases.

The ruling of this case has important implications for employees that are released to light duty work. When this particular employee did not contact her employer about whether she could return to work with new restrictions, her temporary total disability benefits were terminated. When the claimant was release to light-duty work in 2012, nearly a year and a half after her employment was terminated with the company, the employee did not contact her former employer about whether she could be re-hired in a position fitting her restrictions. During the arbitration proceedings in which she received 144 weeks of temporary total disability, the claimant stated that she was working part time.

An evaluation of the evidence resulted in a decision that her temporary total disability benefits should have been terminated shortly before the employee was terminated from the company herself. If you are involved in a current workers’ compensation claim, it’s critical that you work with your attorney to determine your responsibilities in the case. Failing to comply with requirements can result in lost benefits for your case, so it’s important that you are aware of all necessary paperwork, guidelines, and any other details that may be pertinent to your case and benefit eligibility.

If you have been injured on the job, your first step should be to hire an experienced attorney who can help guide you through your claim. Contact an Illinois workers’ compensation attorney today.


Employee Misclassification: Employee or Independent Contractor?

Posted: May 13th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Employee Misclassification, Workers Comp | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

employee misclassification, independent contractor, employee, employer, workers' compEmployee misclassification impacts workers’ compensation benefits. When an employer makes the effort to classify an individual as an independent contractor, the employer no longer retains the responsibility of covering workers’ compensation coverage for that person. Employee misclassification has become an increasing problem in the trucking industry and construction industry, not just in Illinois, but across the country, when employees might only learn too late that an employer has misclassified their role with the company.

If an employer forces you to change your worker status but keep the same job responsibilities, you could be exposed to major risks. Illinois legislators outlined the importance of properly classifying an employee in the Employee Classification Act of 2008, when misclassification of construction employees removed benefits for those workers. After that Act was implemented, the Department of Labor took on the responsibility for investigating claims of misclassification. Those employers caught trying to save money by listing construction or trucking employees as independent contractors can be subject to fines.

Under workers’ compensation guidelines, it must be clear that an employee and employer relationships exists. The term “employee” is rather broad, but the following factors are typically investigated in a case alleging misclassification:

  • How the worker was paid;
  • Who set the ground rules for the terms under which work was completed;
  • What skills were necessary to complete the work; and
  • Who was responsible for providing equipment, tools, and materials for the job.

Independent contractors will retain control over most of these factors and he or she will work off of a bid system, while an employee is governed by the employer’s decisions.

Being misclassified has dangerous ramifications for employees who believe they are protected under workers’ compensation. If you have been injured on the job, you need to contact an Illinois workers’ compensation attorney.


Skin Injury: A Common Occupational Problem

Posted: April 30th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Food Contamination, Illinois workers comp, Personal Injury, Skin Injury, Workers compensation attorney | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

skin disease, skin injury, workers compensation lawyer, attorney, IllinoisExposure between chemicals and human skin is one of the biggest problems in the workplace from an occupational safety perspective. The rate and the number of cases involving skin disease outpaces respiratory illnesses every single year. Skin injuries may disable or permanently scar an employee, leading that individual to file a workers’ compensation claim.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, skin disease reports were received at a rate of 3.4 injuries for every 10,000 employees. Respiratory illnesses, however, were only reported at a rate of 1.9 for every 10,000 employees. The majority of chemicals involved in these workplace accidents are quickly absorbed into the skin, causing immediate health impacts and can even contribute to the overall dosage of the chemical when it is ingested, inhaled, or absorbed. When compared with the lung, the skin is a faster more of exposure for an individual.

Although OSHA specifically publishes standards for particular segments of the population more likely to be exposed, accidents can happen in a broad range of industries. Shipyards, marine terminals, and construction sites are high risk areas because employees are more likely to be working near dangerous chemicals.

An employer or supervisor is responsible for educating all employees about appropriate protocol and taking measures to promote safety in the workplace. All employees working in or around dangerous chemicals should be aware of safety gear and emergency procedures if exposure were to happen.

Unfortunately, in situations where spills or other accidental contact happens, a worker can be exposed to high amounts of chemicals through the skin very quickly. With such a fast absorption rate, an individual might be facing short-term and long-term injuries in the form of skin disease.

If your life has been changed by skin disease you got from a workplace injury, contact an Illinois workers’ compensation attorney today to learn more about your rights.


Responsibilities of Your Employer If You Are Injured At Work

Posted: April 29th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: How to File a Worker's Compensation Claim, Illinois workers comp | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

workers compensation, IWCC, Illinois Workers Compensation Commission, lawyer, attorneyAll employers in Illinois, according to the Illinois Department of Insurance, are required to carry worker’s compensation coverage for employees. If a person is hired as an independent contractor, employers are not required to carry worker’s compensation insurance, which has led to some changes in what can be considered a contract position and what cannot; several disputes have recently arisen regarding a person’s title versus his or her professional responsibilities. All worker’s compensation benefits are covered by licensed insurance companies and must, according to the Illinois Department of Insurance, be among those certified by the state. A list of those companies can be found here.

According to the Illinois Worker’s Compensation Commission (IWCC), if a person is injured at work there are several responsibilities that the employer must undertake by law. First, an employer must render appropriate and necessary first aid and medical services. Immediately after that, the employer must contact his worker’s compensation underwriter, even if he disagrees with the employee’s claim. If the employee was injured to the extent that he or she cannot work for at least three days, the employer has a responsibility to either:

  • Begin Temporary Total Disability (TTD) payments;
  • Provide the employee with a written explanation of what he needs to begin TTD payments; or
  • Provide the employee with a written explanation of he is denying the benefits.

Employers must maintain complete records of all worker’s compensation claims, and must submit any and all claims to the IWCC. If a workers dies while at work, the report must be submitted to the IWCC within two days of the incident. If a worker is injured but not incapacitated for more than three days, an employer is not responsible to submit a claim to the IWCC.

If you suspect that your employer has not met worker’s compensation responsibilities in Illinois, you may be eligible for a lawsuit against him. The most important first step is to contact a worker’s compensation attorney. Contact the Law Offices of Francis J. Discipio today.


Work Hazards Faced by Airline Employees

Posted: April 14th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Illinois workers comp, Personal Injury, Workers Comp, Workers compensation attorney | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

airline employeesWhen it comes to dangerous working environments, airplane employees are some of the workers most vulnerable to injuries on the job that lead to workers’ compensation claims. Some employees are hesitant to make claims on minor issues, but it’s important to remember that what seems like a small injury can get worse over time. Airline employees need to report on-the-job injuries sooner rather than later so that they can take advantage of any available workers’ compensation benefits.

Some of the issues most talked about by OSHA with regard to airline employees include exposure to pathogens, hazardous chemicals, and other injuries that might occur while the plane is taking off, traveling, or landing. Strains and sprains are also common, whether they happen to employees working the baggage ramp, those assisting in ground transportation, or the flight crew themselves.

Airline employees often maintain hectic schedules, making it even more difficult to report their injury after it happens. Medical treatment options may be limited during travel, but it’s critical that injured workers be seen by a medical professional as soon as possible. If an injury has occurred, you must begin the paperwork for your claim sooner rather than later. Waiting too long to file a claim could mean that you are denied benefits entirely.

In situations like this, it can be to your benefit to retain legal counsel immediately. The time-sensitive nature of accidents on the job can best be addressed by an experienced and competent workers’ compensation attorney. If you’re seeking legal counsel, be sure to locate someone who has experience in handling both airline worker claims and someone who has experience in handling denied claims, too. As an injured employee, you have rights. You need someone on your side fighting for the compensation you deserve. Contact an Illinois workers’ compensation attorney today.

 


Could Wellness Programs Reduce Workers Compensation Risks?

Posted: April 5th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Illinois workers comp, Workers Comp, Workers compensation attorney | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

wellness program, workers compensation, lawyer, attorney, IllinoisResearch out of Denver shows that companies could save a lot of money and improve the overall well-being of their employees by investing in a health and wellness program. This is the first study of its kind to look at the impact of a wellness program statewide, examining workplaces in Colorado using a Health Risk Management program. Alongside other benefits, the study results indicate that workers’ compensation risks might be reduced through wellness program implementation

More than 300 employees were included in the study. Under the program, participants experienced a 25 percent decrease in cancer risk, a 25 percent decrease in depression risk, and a 35 percent decrease in smoking rates in only three years. The authors of the study are looking to determine the exact measurements for the improvements on workers’ compensation risks, but early signs indicate that overall risk reduction will influence the workplace positively.

Nutrition and stress were two other areas where workers saw improvements. Program participants decreased stress risk by 23 percent and saw double-digit increases in nutrition and fitness levels. Employees participating in the program begin with the creation of a wellness profile. For the duration of their involvement, workers had access to resources to help stop smoking, telephone coaching, and online assistance. Some employees also included incentives for participating in the program.

Management can have a significant impact on reducing risk and encouraging wellness in the workplace. Making employees aware of such benefit programs could help cut down on the number of workers’ compensation claims, injuries, and other employee complaints, ultimately making the workplace better for all. Managers play a critical role in employee safety.

Unfortunately, workers compensation accidents still happen across Illinois and around the country, especially in places where prevention isn’t prioritized. Contact an Illinois workers’ compensation attorney today if you have been hurt on the job.


Repetitive Stress Injuries: Types & Causes

Posted: March 31st, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Personal Injury, Repetitive injury, stress injury | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Bursitis, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Cook County repetitive strain injury lawyer, Diffuse RSIX Dupuytren’s Contracture, injured at work, Law Offices of Francis J. Discipio, repetitive stress injury, stress injuries, work related injury, workers compensation, workers compensation attorneyInjuries can be caused by a single incident like a car crash or falling on slippery ice, or they can be caused by repeatedly straining a joint, muscle, or tendon until serious damage is done. Sometimes this repetition is done at work while trying to complete an activity necessary to complete one’s job. If you suffer a stress injury at work, you can file for worker’s compensation benefits for your pain and any time that you must take off of work.

The Medical News Today website defines repetitive stress injuries as those caused by performing the same motion over and over again.

  • Bursitis occurrs when the bursa, or the cushion between tendons, muscles, bones, and joints, is inflamed. Pain is then felt at site of inflammation;
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is when the median nerve in the carpal tunnel of the wrist area is compressed, and thus does not allow blood to flow freely to the fingers and hands. This results in pain and numbness, felt in the fingers and hands;
  • Diffuse RSI is when nothing is physically found to be wrong, yet the patient complains of pain;
  • Dupuytren’s Contracture, an uncommon hand deformity, occurs when connective tissue, located under the skin of the palm, contracts and toughens over time. It causes one or multiple fingers to bend into the palm of the hand;
  • Epicondylitis is when bone and tendon join together as a result of overuse of the muscles and tendons;
  • Ganglion occurs when fluid-filled swellings form on tops of joints or tendons in wrists, hands, and feet that appear to be firm or spongy liquid sacs, filled with “sticky, clear, thick, jelly-like fluid”;
  • Rotator Cuff Syndrome occurs when shoulder tendons and muscles become inflamed;
  • Tendonitis is when tendons becomes inflamed;
  • Tenosynovitis occurs when the inner lining of the sheath surrounding the tendon becomes inflamed;
  • Trigger finger is when a finger or thumb becomes stuck in a bent position, and the tendon sheath, along with the tendon, both becomes inflamed as well.

If you have suffered from one or more of these injuries and you believe it is due to repetitive strenuous tasks at work, contact a workers’ compensation attorney. Located in Cook County, Ill., attorneys at the Law Offices of Francis J. Discipio can assist you in court today.