Injured workers are often concerned how they will have to prove their injuries are work-related. And the truth is, often employers will attempt to fight workers’ compensation claims by asserting that the injury did not occur in the workplace. A worker who was injured without witnesses present could find their version of the event questioned or doubted. The stress of heavy scrutiny and pressure, combined with the pain and limitations of their injury, can be overwhelming. And as a result, too often a worker will give up on his or her workers’ compensation claim. For such workers, the good news is that a recent court win has shown how effective it can be to fight for your rights.
A recent ruling by the Illinois Appellate Court sided with an injured worker whose employer claimed insufficient evidence existed to prove the injury was work-related. At the time of injury, the worker, Bryan Simpson, had worked for Continental Tire North America for sixteen years. According to court documents, while performing a regular function of his job that required pulling forcefully on a piece of equipment, Simpson “felt a pop in his neck” followed immediately by a “burning” pain. Ultimately, he was diagnosed with a disc herniation, a diagnosis which was supported by a company-selected physician. In addition to medical treatments, including a disc replacement surgery, the claimant’s injury often required him to miss work or perform only light-duty work. A workers’ compensation arbitrator awarded Simpson with total temporary disability (TTD) benefits, medical expenses, and travel expenses accrued while seeking treatment.
Continental Tire, however, opted to fight the claimant’s workers’ compensation claim. After losing multiple appeals, they took their case to the Illinois Appellate Court. In this appeal, Continental cited that Simpson’s testimony alone was not sufficient evidence to prove that his injuries were work-related. They further argued that “the claimant’s actual behavior or conduct” was inconsistent with his testimony. They believed his waiting nearly two weeks to seek treatment and to report his injury called into question the credibility of his account.
In both areas of dispute, the court upheld the claim of the injured worker. Though Simpson’s injury event had no other witnesses, the court found that “it is well settled that a claimant’s testimony alone may be sufficient to support an award of benefits.” Also, the court further accepted Simpson’s explanation as to the length of time between his injury and reporting the injury. Immediately after his injury, Simpson opted to “wait and see” if the pain would subside on its own. A few days later, the plant shut down for a week, during which time he rested at home using a heating pad for pain. After returning to work, he finally sought medical treatment and reported his injury to his employer. The court found that this timeline was not only credible, but that Simpson’s testimony to the event had been consistently reported to his treating physicians. As such, his testimony, combined with the medical evidence of injury, was sufficient to deny Continental Tire’s latest request to overturn Simpson’s workers’ compensation awards.
Sadly, practices such as these are often used to prevent an injured worker from obtaining his or her rightfully deserved benefits. The employer often relies on the worker simply not having the knowledge or strength to withstand a legal onslaught of paperwork and court proceedings. Fortunately, injured workers are not alone. By utilizing an Illinois workers compensation lawyer, they have an advocate who knows how to protect their legal rights and secure for them the benefits they need.
About the Author: Brooke Haley is a Marketing Associate at Millon & Peskin, Chicago workers compensation attorney that practice in the areas of Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury. Millon & Peskin is a General Civil Litigation Practice with the goal of representing the interests of injured workers, throughout all applicable Courts in the State of Illinois. For more information about Illinois workers compensation lawyer,please visit www.millonpeskin.com.