Primary Cause Tests in Worker’s Compensation

You may have heard of the “primary cause” test regarding worker’s compensation: some groups in the state of Illinois intend to limit liability in worker’s compensation claims by only allowing compensation for cases in which the accident was the “primary cause” of the worker’s injury. While this may sound reasonable, the problem is that this would disregard and even eliminate viable claims for aggravations of pre-existing injuries, which can leave those with pre-existing injuries or conditions with little compensation or none at all.

Consider Steak and Shake vs. Illinois Worker’s Compensation Commission. The restaurant’s manager, who filed the claim, had been cleaning a table and heard a “pop” in her right hand and felt intense pain radiating through the hand. Following a surgery called “right thumb arthroplasty” and a second surgery to remove a pin from her hand, the manager testified that her right thumb was useless and was awarded benefits by both the commission and arbitrator. Her employer, however, claimed that the injury was pre-existing and sought a witness doctor who examined her x-rays and claimed she had pre-existing arthritis, which allegedly resulted in the injury rather than cleaning the table. This was rejected by both the court and commission.

With worker’s compensation reform on the state’s agenda and the “primary cause test” high on the list, some are concerned that workers may lose cases such as these in the future. Many people have pre-existing conditions ranging from arthritis and osteoporosis to a variety of back injuries, and primary cause tests could deny them compensation for aggravations of these conditions just because they existed before a workplace accident took place. If you’ve been injured on the job, you deserve to be fully compensated for all your injuries, losses, and medical expenses, including aggravated pre-existing conditions.

If you or a loved one has suffered a workplace accident due to negligence, contact Agruss Law Firm, LLC for a free consultation. We are a Chicago-based injury law firm representing individuals (and their families) who have suffered an injury in an accident. We will handle your case quickly and advise you every step of the way, and we will not hesitate to go to trial for you. Lastly, Agruss Law Firm, LLC is not paid attorneys’ fees unless we win your case. Our no-fee promise is that simple. You have nothing to risk when you hire us – only the opportunity to seek justice.

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