Most workers’ compensation cases are resolved quickly and smoothly, but sometimes the process becomes complicated. According to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, injured workers appealed almost 2,100 cases in the state during the year 2013 alone. Nearly half of these appeals resulted in an increased level of benefits. By following three basic tips, employees can prepare for an appeal and increase their chances of winning.
Tip #1: Know how the appeal process works
Before choosing to make a workers’ compensation appeal, employees should be aware of the appeal process and the range of possible outcomes. Illinois law provides for the following options in appeal cases:
- A worker denied compensation has recourse to arbitration.
- If arbitration is unsuccessful, the worker may appeal formally to the IWCC for reconsideration for the case.
- After reviewing the case, the IWCC decides whether to approve or deny the appeal.
- If the IWCC approves the appeal, a three-member review panel decides how much compensation to offer the injured worker.
- If the IWCC denies the appeal, the worker may pursue the case in the Illinois Supreme Court.
This multi-stage process may last for a year or more. Arbitrators, reviewers or other IWCC officials may ask for additional testimony and evidence at any point.
Tip #2: Speak discreetly and seek legal counsel
After a workplace injury or illness, it is normal to seek advice and support from family, friends and co-workers. This practice can be dangerous for injured employees who plan to appeal a workers’ compensation case. Everything that employees say, even in an informal context, can be used as evidence against them. Before speaking about medical issues, workers should seek legal counsel. This advice is especially crucial if there are pre-existing medical conditions.
Tip #3: Beware of social media
Social media can be a lifeline for injured workers during the pain and discomfort of recovery. Unfortunately, it can also be a liability during the appeal process. Employers and their attorneys may use social media postings, videos, messages and other evidence to argue that a worker is not genuinely disabled. Always think before posting, and consider taking a break from social media while the case is under consideration.
Appealing a workers’ compensation case can be challenging. These three tips—know the process, speak discreetly and use social media wisely—can alleviate some of the difficulties. Call a personal injury attorney today for a free consultation about your case.