Articles Posted in Workplace Injury

In a workplace injury circumstance, as with any kind of personal injury situation, cases can vary widely. Sometimes, all of the causes and relevant facts surrounding a workplace accident may be completely apparent or, at least, readily obtainable. Other times, though, there may be very important questions whose answers are difficult, or even impossible, to discover. When that happens, one thing you definitely should not do is simply give up on the possibility of obtaining compensation for the harm you suffered. One thing you definitely should do is arm yourself with complete information by consulting with a knowledgeable Chicago injury attorney. Even with some missing details, your experienced workplace injury attorney may very possibly be able to stitch together a sufficient narrative of the case that meets all of the law’s requirements for potentially obtaining an award of damages, thereby allowing you to pursue compensation either via settlement or judgment.

For one central Illinois man, the circumstances of his workplace injury were tragic. As reported by The Pantagraph, J.H. was a maintenance mechanic for a county government. J.H.’s duties included working at the county’s Law and Justice Center. One day in May 2015, co-workers found the mechanic at the bottom of an elevator shaft in the Law and Justice Center. He was dead, having perished from blunt force trauma and compressional asphyxia, which essential means being crushed to death. Investigators later discovered that the mechanic had entered the shaft in order to obtain an item that a visitor to the center had lost down the shaft, the report indicated.

Workplace accidents involving elevators, like J.H.’s fatal incident, may allow the deceased worker’s family to sue and to recover against multiple parties. In Illinois, the owner of the property where the elevator accident occurred is one person or entity that may owe compensation to the injured worker. They are required to engage in the highest degree of care to make certain that the elevators within their properties are sufficiently inspected and maintained to ensure safety.

The amount of recovery an injured plaintiff may be entitled to receive will vary significantly depending on the facts and the circumstances that surround the case. Just because your injury did not cause death or catastrophic injury (such as permanent paralysis), or did not prevent the injured person from living without the aid of a caregiver or ever working again, does not necessarily mean that your case is automatically entitled to a smaller damages award. Your Illinois injury attorney can help you make knowledgeable determinations about how much your case is worth. In one recent matter affirmed by the Illinois Appellate Court, a railway worker received more than $20,000,000 after he suffered a serious foot injury at work.

The injured worker in this case was a conductor at a railway, working in Chicago. One day in September 2011, the conductor and an engineer were trying to separate a car from a chain of cars to facilitate a repair. In the process, the conductor’s foot became caught between the car on which he was riding and a car situated on an adjacent track.

A main reason that the accident occurred, according to the conductor, was improper work done on the tracks in 2010. After the completion of that work, the part of the tracks where the conductor was injured had a distance of only 10.5 feet between the two tracks, even though the Illinois Commerce Commission regulations require a minimum distance of 13.5 feet.

For any worker seeking to recover workers’ compensation benefits, one might hope for a clear-cut case in which the workplace injury unmistakably caused harm to the worker. Real life is rarely clear-cut, however, which is one reason why it pays to have experienced Illinois workers’ compensation attorneys on your side. An example of succeeding even without a clear-cut case was a truck driver who had pre-existing conditions but whose evidence persuaded the Illinois Appellate Court that the driver’s post-accident state of ill-being was causally related to her workplace accident.

The worker was a woman who worked as a truck driver for several months in 2005. She eventually returned to truck driving, working for the same employer, in 2013. In the interim, she had undergone two back surgeries, one in 2009 and one in 2011. Despite the back problems and fibromyalgia, she passed both the employer’s physical exam and a state-mandated physical exam for truck drivers.

Six months back on the job, the driver slipped and fell on ice while making a delivery to a distribution center in northwest Illinois. The driver’s doctor restricted her from working. In the following April, she underwent spinal fusion surgery. Even after the surgery, the worker experienced pain and numbness, walked with a limp, and was unsteady on her feet. Her doctor did not clear her to return to truck driving and also imposed lifting restrictions. By September 2014, the employer terminated the driver.

United Airlines (UAL) employees are talking and social media chat rooms are buzzing about the potential change in workers’ compensation administrators. For about 20 years Gallagher Bassett has been administrating the claims for benefits due to occupational injuries also known as “occupationals”, “OJI” or workers’ compensation injuries. Typically, an administrator provides claims adjustment services that include the investigation and processing of injury claims and payment of weekly workers’ compensation income benefits known as temporary total disability (TTD) and authorization for medical procedures and payment of medical bills. The administrator may also, at times, negotiate settlements after the injured worker has been released from doctor’s care.

There does not appear to have been a formal notice or press release confirming that United Airlines is replacing Gallagher Bassett. There has been speculation that this may occur October 1, 2017 and that the new claims administrator will be Sedgwick Claims Management Services.

Helpful Advice for the Injured Worker

What do I do when I am injured at work?

You know your job and you know what to do when things are running smoothly and when things go wrong. However, when you get injured you may be unsure about what to do and what to say. Here are some helpful hints for figuring out what to do when you get injured at work.

1. Report everything. If you get hurt at work you should report the accident to your superiors as soon as possible. Let them know exactly what happened and when it happened. It is easy when you have a specific injury, “I picked up a box and felt a sharp pain in my low back.” It is harder when the injury is due to the repetitive and forceful activities that you do at work. If you have pain and think it is work related let somebody know about it and see a doctor. You will need to report the claim to your employer as soon as a doctor tells you that your pain may be work related. Reporting every injury does not mean you are going to a doctor or hiring a lawyer every time. You are documenting that something happened. If you get hurt on Thursday but do not report it until the following Monday your employer may question your claim. Report the accident as soon as possible.

Illinois is the home of multiple major auto manufacturing facilities, including Ford in Chicago and Chrysler in Belvidere. Just as with any manufacturing operation, auto assembly facilities come with their own risks of injury and sometimes even death. Earlier this year, a crane inspector employed by an Illinois company died in a fall at Ford’s Dearborn, Mich. facility. Last year, a man died underneath a falling wall at Ford’s facility in Chicago. Whether the fault for an accident lies with contractors, subcontractors, the auto company, or someone else is a matter that varies from case to case. An experienced Illinois injury attorney can help you pinpoint who is responsible in your case and help you get justice.

Just before 9:00 a.m. on Jan. 11, 2017, a crane inspector began traversing a wooden catwalk to approach a crane that he needed to inspect. The catwalk collapsed beneath the inspector, allowing him to fall between 30 and 50 feet to a concrete floor below. The inspector was transported to a nearby hospital, but he later died as a result of his injuries.

According to reports published by CBS Detroit, other employees at the Dearborn plant “told WWJ Newsradio that the man was not wearing a safety strap when” he fell to the floor. While the accident took place in Michigan, the fatally injured worker was employed by a Chicago-area employer that provides maintenance and inspection services for overhead cranes. As recently as the summer of 2015, Michigan’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a release reminding and imploring employers to give workers “100 percent fall protection” if the worker’s job means working at heights higher than six feet.

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Safety remains an important issue for teachers, teacher’s assistants and school workers. Numerous injuries occur while teachers and school employees strive to instruct and provide for the safety and well-being of students. Although the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act is a law set up to benefit and provide relief for the injured worker, skilled workers’ compensation attorneys familiar and experienced with school related injuries are frequently needed to ensure the injureds’ rights are protected. Katz, Friedman, one of the few law firms, approved by the Illinois Education Association (IEA) to handle work injures on behalf of its members has successfully represented the injured throughout Illinois including employees of Elgin’s School District U-46, Rockford School District No. 205, St. Charles Community Unit School District No. 303, and many more. We are proud to report two recent trial victories on behalf of injured teaching professionals.

In the first case, the injured, a physical education teacher, suffered an injury while teaching her class. The teacher was demonstrating stretches and exercises to her students when she injured her back. The teacher sought medical treatment immediately and was given work restrictions by her doctor. The school district stated that they could not accommodate her restrictions and would not allow her to return to work. The school district also refused to pay her off work benefits, pay for her continued medical treatment and refused to allow her to come back to work in any capacity until all of her restrictions were removed. The school district based their denial of workers compensation benefits on the notion that “demonstrating exercises to students was not an essential function of a PE teacher’s job duties.” The school district’s refusal to allow the teacher to return to work lasted five months. During this time, the injured teacher did not receive any off work benefits as provided under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. Katz Friedman attorneys fought for the injured teacher at trial before the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. The Arbitrator ruled in favor of the teacher and agreed with all of Katz Friedman’s trial arguments. The injured teacher was awarded full off work benefits, payment of all medical bills including repayment of her out-of-pocket medical expenses of over $1,000.00 and a substantial award for the permanent partial disability caused by the back injury.

In the second case, Katz Friedman attorneys received a favorable trial decision where a special education teacher’s assistant sustained a concussion after a student punched her in the head. The trial award was five times greater than the amount offered for settlement by the school district. At trial, the school district attempted to minimize the injured teacher’s assistant’s symptoms claiming they were not related to the concussion injury. The school district’s argument was supported by a doctor they retained for the litigation. Katz Friedman attorneys were successful in convincing the Arbitrator that the medical evidence and treating doctor’s opinions were more credible than the doctor retained by the school district. Although there is still time for the school district to appeal this very recent decision, Katz Friedman attorneys remain confident that the results will be upheld.

The aftermath of a workplace injury can be a stressful time. In many cases, your injury may leave you so limited that you cannot work. When that happens, it is important to make sure that you get all of the benefits you deserve, such as workers’ compensation, to provide for yourself and your family. For one hospital worker, that involved taking her case to the Illinois Appellate Court and winning a reinstatement of her full temporary total disability award because not only was she not working but also she proved that she wasn’t able to work.

The employee in this case was a surgical technician at a small-town hospital. Her job tasks consisted of setting up and cleaning up surgical rooms before and after procedures, in addition to moving patients to recovery beds. Two months into her job, the technician felt “something pull and shoot down [her] low back, into [her] legs” while moving a surgical bed into a hallway. A few weeks after the incident, the technician’s doctor diagnosed her with a disc herniation in her back. Eventually, the woman’s doctor concluded that she was unable to work and needed back surgery to address the disc problem.

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A recent case from Cook County shines a light on injuries that take place in schools but outside school hours. A middle school science teacher endured a bad fall and a significant injury during an afterschool student-teacher basketball game. The teacher sued for workers’ compensation benefits, arguing that his participation in the game was “in the course of his employment.” Ultimately, the First District Appellate Court agreed with the teacher and reinstated an arbitrator’s award of benefits to the teacher.

The teacher in this case was teaching under the terms of a one-year contract. In March, his principal approached him about participating in an afterschool student-teacher basketball game, which was intended as a reward for certain students and a way of building rapport between students and faculty. He evaded the first few invitations, but, since he had not yet received a contract for the following year, nor had he received his performance evaluation, the teacher eventually decided that he should take part in order to enhance his standing with the principal.

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