An injured Chicago worker who has a lawyer called us to vent about her case. She didn’t call her lawyer because he hasn’t called her back the last two times she called and she thinks he’s on vacation. I was happy to let her rant and get out her frustrations. One thing I liked about her is that she got to the point. When I asked what was the problem, she didn’t give me a long story, but instead said:
Why Is My Work Comp So Delayed? It’s Been 12 Weeks!
Upon further prodding, I discovered that she hurt her shoulder while lifting a heavy box at work. She reported it right away and it was a witnessed accident. She went to the doctor right away and told them she was hurt at work. She followed the doctor’s suggestions for medical care. In other words she did everything right. While initially she was paid for a few weeks of missed time and her medical bills were paid, once a MRI was recommended the approvals stopped and now it’s been almost three months without payment and she can’t get the medical care she needs. This is putting her health at risk in many ways.
So why is her case delayed?
The most obvious answer to me is that she hired a weak lawyer. From what I learned, no doctor has said her injuries aren’t work related and the only given reason for the delay is that “the insurance company is investigating the claim.” That is a complete bullshit denial and if her lawyer was more aggressive with trial motions, she’d be paid by now and progressing with her medical care.
Insurance companies do this when they think they can get away with it. The lawyer she hired isn’t one that does work comp all day every day. In other words, he doesn’t have a track record of winning cases and since he also does divorce, traffic, car accidents and wills, the insurance company properly assessed that he wouldn’t do anything for this client. It was also a situation where this woman works in Chicago, but lives about an hour outside of the City. She hired an attorney near her an the insurance company again properly assessed that he wouldn’t want to come to Chicago for trial hearings.
Not every delay is this clear cut. Sometimes there’s a real investigation going on, but in almost no case should it be three months and you are still in a wait and see mode. Maybe they’ve scheduled you for an IME and that’s why it’s delayed. That can be legit. Maybe they aren’t investigating but actually denied your case for some reason. That can be b.s. or legit or somewhere in between, but at least you are told the reason and can respond. But a general delay without cause, especially when a case seems so clear cut, shouldn’t happen.
A good lawyer would file a 19(b) petition for immediate hearing and petition for penalties and attorney fees. They’d then pick up the phone and likely solve the problem with the adjuster or a a defense attorney. The solution for this worker is to get a new lawyer who knows what they are doing as is willing to do what needs to be done.