Geneseo, IL asked in Employment Discrimination, Employment Law and Workers' Compensation for Illinois

Q: I was hurt at work ended up with carpal tunnel, then fell and hit my head. Also feel intimidated by my Boss as well

After hurting my hand and having carpal tunnel surgery I was in the enterance of the store were I dont really know what happen next I was on the floor with my head bleeding all I was doing was helping a customer get out the door, the door did not open and is still broken to this day. Was taken to the hospital. I went to the doctor that did the surgery he said it looked fine, no xrays just a look at it. but i started to have trouble with the hand again swelling and pain. Seeing another doctor he sent me to therapy for the hand which helps but still with working and using it swells up again and hurts. going to see the claims doctor because they do not think the person i am seeing is doing the right thing i guess. now the intimidation part my coach Bonnie has written me up so i can not move away from her when i started to look at moving departments this will have to be explained in more detail and do not have the room here for it

1 Lawyer Answer
Charles Candiano
Charles Candiano
  • Workers' Compensation Lawyer
  • Chicago, IL
  • Licensed in Illinois

A: I am not addressing the friction with your supervisor. If you wish to address that, you should speak with someone who concentrates on employment law.

I am addressing your work injuries. You do not tell us how you injured your hand. From your description, I will assume that it was a single traumatic injury and not something that developed over time which we call repetitive stress trauma. Once you are diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, it was reasonable to do a carpal tunnel release. All of your symptoms should have resolved literally, when you came out of the anesthesia. You should have been able to return to work within 4 to 6 weeks of surgery. If pain persisted, your doctor should have investigated/done further testing to determine what was causing the pain. I have seen a number of clients who are initially diagnosed with traumatic trigger finger or traumatic carpal tunnel syndrome. After undergoing surgical release, they remained symptomatic so additional testing was done and we later learned that the same trauma which caused the carpal tunnel syndrome or the trigger finger also resulted in a tear of the TFCC (triangular fibrocartilage complex) which often manifests itself as wrist pain.

If the Worker's Compensation carrier is sending you to a doctor of their choosing, it is not because they are concerned about your welfare, it is because it is taking far too long for your diagnosed injury to heal and no one has bothered to make any further diagnosis which results in wasting the insurance companies money and a huge inconvenience to the employer as the employer must continue to accommodate whatever restrictions your doctor has placed on you. The insurance company's Dr. which is also known as a Section 12 Examiner (because the examination is authorized by section 12 of the Illinois Worker's Compensation act) is likely to render a summary decision such as "Petitioner sustained a work injury which resulted in carpal tunnel syndrome. The carpal tunnel release which followed and other medical care was both reasonable and necessary. Petitioner reached maximum medical improvement and was able to return to work without restriction six weeks after the date of surgery.

That terminates the insurance company's liability. If you cannot perform the work that you were hired to do, your employer certainly could fire you, for cause. That would mean that you would be left, seeking new employment, with a sore hand and no unemployment benefits and no health insurance to get further care for your hand.

An experienced Worker's Compensation attorney would have explained the process to you and would have given you/your doctor an opportunity to figure out what else is wrong with your hand and to address it before the insurance company decided to get their own opinion. In Illinois, no attorney can charge you more than 20% of your recovery on a Worker's Compensation claim and no attorney can take any money for benefits that are voluntarily paid on in Illinois Worker's Compensation claim.

For Illinois Workers' Compensation claims, you will ALWAYS cheat yourself if your do not hire experienced counsel. You will have someone to guide you through the process AND when it is time to settle, an attorney can add value to your case IN EXCESS of his fee. In the last few years, employers also seek to advance the argument that when you settle a case without an attorney, your already low settlement should be further reduced by 20% so that you do not get a “windfall.” Representing yourself in Illinois is a lose-lose proposition. When you are represented, you have fewer headaches AND you get more money. It really is a no-brainer.

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