Overcoming Your Employer’s ‘Independent Intervening’ Accident Argument in Your Illinois Workers’ Compensation Claim

When you are hurt at work and it becomes necessary to pursue a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, there are several hurdles you have to clear. For one thing, you have to meet all of the procedural requirements that go with the workers’ compensation claim process, which can be challenging for those not familiar with the rules.

In addition, you may have factual issues in your case that could open the door to attacks by your employer. For example, if you have incurred additional accidents after you suffered the original workplace accident that was the basis for your claim for benefits, your employer may try to argue that the later accident was the real cause of your harm, not the original workplace accident. Whether it is meeting all the procedural obligations or being prepared to take on your employer’s arguments, it pays to be sure that you are fully prepared and that includes having an experienced Chicago workers’ compensation attorney on your side.

D.H.’s claim was one that involved this issue of intervening accidents. The employee was working for an electrical entity when his right arm was injured on June 16, 2014. The next year, in April, while working for a different employer, the employee injured his right shoulder.

When you’ve suffered multiple workplace accidents, that can open the door to multiple options for you. You may need to file a claim and then later file an application for adjustment of your claim in order to get the full sum of benefits you deserve. You will need to have evidence that links your medical/health problems to each of the accidents that you incurred at work.

This worker did that and the arbitrator found that he had suffered three compensable workplace accidents and that the harm he suffered was connected to all three of them. D.H.’s earlier employer attempted to argue that the arbitrator was wrong, and that the April 2015 accidents were “independent intervening causes” of the worker’s harm. If that were true, then only the April 2015 accidents, and not June 2014 one, were “causally connected” to the damages D.H. had suffered, because independent intervening causes break the chain of causal connection.

In D.H.’s circumstance, all the accidents happened while working for employers, but it is clear why being prepared to thwart such an argument about “intervening causes” would be essential if, say, the subsequent and allegedly intervening accident happened while you were working for yourself.

Illinois law has erected some clear barriers on the extent to which employers can use this “independent intervening cause” assertion. For example, say you were harmed by a workplace accident. Then, say a subsequent accident further aggravates your condition. Even if that later accident wasn’t work related, the later accident is not an intervening accident that defeats your claim for benefits based on the first accident.

In this worker’s case, he had the evidence he needed to blunt the “intervening accident” argument. Both sides had ample proof, but the commission found D.H.’s more persuasive, so he was successful and got the benefits he needed.

There may be many hurdles you have to clear, and hoops you have to jump through in the course of your claim for workers’ compensation benefits. For the legal representation you need to navigate this path successfully, call upon the skilled Chicago workers’ compensation attorneys at Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca. Our attorneys have been helping injured workers for a long time and are ready to discuss getting you the benefits you deserve. To set up a free case evaluation, contact us at 800-444-1525 or through our website.