When workers are injured on the job, they often need immediate medical care. Many workplace accidents require a visit to the doctor or the emergency room. Some accidents may lead to several days and nights in the hospital. Although McHenry workers’ compensation law requires employees to report medical treatment to their employers for proper coverage, adequate care is always the first priority, even when the worker is not yet able to notify the employer. A recent Illinois court case involving a recently terminated FedEx employee has affirmed the right to care without prior notification.
Unexpected termination for a FedEx worker
An Illinois FedEx employee reported back pain in January 2007 and was given a week of light duty by his supervisors. During this period, he sought medical care from a physician assistant, who prescribed physical therapy and a functional capacity evaluation to discover the extent of the damage to his back. When his employers discovered that he had received treatment for a work-related injury, the company terminated his employment, citing a FedEx policy that injured employees must give notice before seeking medical care. Several years later, the employee filed an action against FedEx for wrongful termination.
Decision by the U.S. District Court
FedEx removed the action in January 2013 to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. This court ruled that the employee had the right under McHenry workers’ compensation law to seek medical treatment without notifying his employer first. Although FedEx protested that a 24-hour phone line was open for notification, the court maintained that the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act prohibits retaliation when employees choose to see a doctor or another medical specialist before notifying their employers. The worker was awarded more than $50,000 in damages.
Seeking medical care after a workplace accident
The hours and days after a workplace injury can be overwhelming and confusing. This recent Illinois court case is a reminder that all workers can seek care on their own schedule. When people are injured at work, they have the right to all of the following services:
- Emergency care at a hospital, urgent care center or other facility
- Consultation with a primary care provider
- Referral to a specialist
- Physical therapy and capacity evaluation
Workers do not need to notify employers before seeking any of these levels of care.
McHenry workers’ compensation law gives you the right to medical care and treatment in Illinois without employer interference. To discuss the details of your case, call a personal injury attorney today.