According to the Handbook on Workers' Compensation and Occupational Diseases by the Illinois Workers' Compensation Committee, work comp benefits are available for any accidents "that arise out of and in the course of employment."
In essence, this means that work comp benefits are available for a multitude of physiological and psychological injuries (including pre-existing conditions) and, more importantly, that workers can be confident that they'll be covered during difficult times.
Unfortunately, employers are not always as understanding as they should be, and will do everything they can to avoid paying a claim and get an otherwise injured employee back to work as soon as possible.
This may include everything from denying the claim to demanding that the employee submit to a secondary opinion, meaning an independent medical exam conducted by a third-party physician.
Unfortunately, it may also mean subjecting the injured employee's treating physician to a barrage of questions.
Believe it or not, it's not uncommon for employers to contact physicians over the telephone and inquire about the employee's ability to perform job-related duties or whether they are subject to any work restrictions.
This sort of communication, while legal, nevertheless puts treating physicians in the unenviable position of having to balance a patient's health with their return to work.
"It's not a perfect system," said one orthopedic surgeon. "It's always going to be difficult because there will always be vested interests in the company and in the employee. It's never on a level playing field."
The unfortunate reality is that employers are prone to thinking that all injured employees are somehow looking to take advantage of the work comp system and, depending on the case manager involved, will be doing all they can to monitor their progress.
In these challenging times, it's important for injured workers to focus on their recovery, and try their best to ignore distractions. In fact, for this very reason, it may be helpful to consider speaking with an experienced legal professional who can fight on your behalf when it comes to doing battle with insurance companies and employers.
Please visit our website to learn more about work injuries, work comp benefits and medical bills.
Sources: Medill Reports Chicago, "Caught in the middle: Doctors balance interests of patients and employers in workers' comp cases," Jason Peterson, Feb. 28, 2013; Illinois Workers' Compensation Committee, "Handbook on workers' compensation and occupational diseases," Jan. 2013