My Workers Comp Injury was not Diagnosed Properly

Question:

I’m a construction worker (Local #1 Ironworker). On June 18th, 2002, I was climbing a ladder extending from the second floor of the condominium we were building to the third floor. This particular day someone from one of the other trades cut the wires we used to keep the ladder from falling backwards when someone is climbing.
Two men were sent up this ladder – myself and another Ironworker named Rodney. Rodney was sent up the ladder first because we were landing steel that particular day and no one was on the third floor. As Rodney began his climb the higher he went the ladder began to pull away from the structure and he frantically jerked the ladder to keep it from falling and hurt his back.
Not knowing that I was on my way up that same ladder Rodney went to go land the steel that was unattended hanging over other tradesmen heads. As I proceeded up the ladder I got maybe to the 6th level when the ladder jerked again and I hurt my leg and knee.
I went to the emergency room. The doctor asked me what type of work do I do, I told him I’m an ironworker and I carry about 1000 to 2000 pounds of steel everyday, are you sure I can go back to work? He said yes. The muscle is swollen but that’s it. Return to regular duty but return for a follow-up on June 21st.
The swelling hadn’t changed and I couldn’t bend or even walk fast without my knee feeling like it could give out at any time. I went back for my follow-up visit and the same doctor treated me again. He then noticed that the leg had gotten worse because now my right foot and ankle had swelling as well.
He looked at my chart and realized that he didn’t give me an x-ray on my initial visit so he asked me, “I didn’t give you an x-ray”? “No sir you didn’t”. “Sorry about that” he said. I went to see this doctor for follow-up visits twice, then I was sent to another job on July 31st, where I slipped on some gravel and fell in a hole and re-injured my right knee. I was sent to UIC Medical Emergency room where the first thing they did was document the errors of the physician who had treated me for the earlier injury. They particularly noted the failure to properly follow up patients with the proper care and referral to the proper specialists who may be better able to treat the condition. I believe that based on the statements on Medical Malpractice I read I have a case against the original doctor.

–Ladell, Griffith, IN

Answer:

Unfortunately, so many of our uniquely individual human rights depend on what state the accident happened in. If the accident and/or malpractice happened in Indiana, you are subject to a legislature that is insensitive to the injured. Your rights are capped and restricted.
I have always found it interesting that in every state where human rights are trashed, the economy in those states is poor, the wages are poor and the populace is generally poor. However, in those states where there are ample human rights, commerce is strong, there is a strong middle class and there are unions. It’s thanks partly to unions like Local 1 that pay a good wage and pension benefits that these economies are strong.
If any of the events you referred to happened in Illinois or if you were hired out of Illinois then you are better protected. It sounds like you would have to have been hired out of Illinois since you are a Local #1 Ironworker.
Certainly, when you are hurt at work, you have a WC claim. Further, since another contractor altered the safety supports for the ladder, you would have a third party case against that contractor and the general contractor. As to the malpractice claim, it’s important to have your treating physicians on your side. Are they?
Either way, please do not give any tape-recorded statements regardless of who requests one. Anyone who does request that is your enemy in this case. A friend or someone looking to protect you would never subject you to a tape-recorded statement. Later on they will be deposing you and they will have medical records and many other communications by you that they will try to use against you, unmercifully.