This what I imagine an arbitrator, what they call a Workers’ Compensation Judge in Illinois, would tell you about the inner workings of the work injury system.
Q: What is the main part of your job?
A: The most important part of my job is to decide disputed cases and provide a well reasoned ruling as quickly as possible. I understand that an injured worker’s life has been interrupted and if they meet the requirements of the law they are entitled to off work pay, medical benefits and compensation for the injury. At the same time, the employer should not have to pay for medical treatment and any additional money to a person who was not injured on the job.
Q: What are you looking for when you have a trial?
A: Really for me there are two main aspects of the case I focus on. First, are the witnesses believable. In most cases there are only one or two witnesses, and the injured worker is the person who testifies the longest. Witnesses who tell a story that doesn’t make sense do not get very far with me. Witnesses who fight the lawyers or who are angry make it difficult at times. The second part is looking at the medical records. They really do tell a story.
Q: What specifically are you looking for in the medical records?
A: Did the injured worker go to the doctor right away? It does not make much sense if you are seriously injured and delay in seeing the doctor. Did you tell the medical personnel how you were hurt? Why would someone hide important information from their doctor?
Q: Any other important information you look for?
A: Did the injured worker file an accident report? Or is there a witness to the accident. These things can certainly make an injured worker’s case stronger.
Q: What about doctor testimony?
A: Sometimes in a close case regarding whether the accident could have caused the medical condition there are some complex issues. However, in most cases the medical records really show what is happening and the doctors are just confirming what makes sense.
As mentioned, this is what I believe an Arbitrator would tell you. But remember this is just my take on important parts of a case.
Questions about your work comp case? Feel free to contact Illinois Workers’ Compensation Attorney Dirk May at 309-827-4371.