Medical Malpractice After an Illinois Work Injury


We are Illinois work comp lawyers. But we feel it’s our job to help people who come to us for advice on anything that stems from the work comp case. So if you have a back surgery and the doctor cuts a nerve in your back causing a major injury, you might also need a medical malpractice attorney. We don’t file those cases ourselves, but do work with the best firms in Illinois on those claims, when our clients need a referral or just someone to see if they have a case.

Now this doesn’t mean that your work comp attorney should be an expert on Illinois malpractice law. But any injury attorney in Illinois should be networked with attorneys who do those cases and be able to give you a referral if needed. These issues also come up so much that your work comp attorney should recognize that malpractice might have happened (not in every case of course) and discuss it with you.  It’s not much different than them investigating if a person/company other than your employer was responsible for your work accident. This is what it means to fully do the job.

What I’ve noticed over the years is that it’s the injured worker who raises this issue, not the attorney. That’s ok as they know what happened to them medically and how their body is feeling. But what I’ve also noticed is that a lot of attorneys tell their clients to wait until the work comp case is over before they do anything about suing the doctor. That is nuts, terrible advice and potentially legal malpractice.

I say that because if you wait more than two years from when you knew or should have known malpractice occurred (no longer than four years no matter when you knew) to file suit, your case will be barred forever.  So if your lawyer tells you to wait, they could be costing you potentially millions of dollars.

Most attorneys make this awful error for two reasons. First off they think they will need the opinion of the doctor you want to sue to help your work comp case. This might be true, but ignores some very important things. Malpractice lawsuits take a long time to investigate. So in the mean time they can get the doctor to give a deposition that locks in their opinion. They also could send you to a different doctor to review your records and offer an opinion.

The second reason attorneys make this mistake is that they are friends with the doctor or have a lot of cases involving them. So they don’t want to ruin their relationship with them. Put another way, they are looking out for themselves, not you.

Like anything else related to your work comp case, you have to be your own advocate. So if you suspect malpractice occurred, talk to your attorney and ask for a referral. If they blow you off, then they aren’t the right law firm for you and we’d be willing to discuss taking the case over.

By Mike Helfand

Courtesy of  Illinois Workers Compensation Law Blog

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