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My friend’s story

Let me tell you a story. My friend is crashing on my couch indefinitely because she lost her job after she was unable to come in anymore. Perhaps that doesn’t sound like much of a story on the face of it, but it’s a little more sinister than that.

She couldn’t come into work anymore because she’d become sick. She became sick because of the fumes in her office. And only her office.

This is what happened. My friend worked for a local business, which will remain anonymous for now because, as I’ll explain in a bit, she’s considering a lawsuit. She had her own office, and next to her office there was construction going on. The build her boss had moved the business into was only about three-quarters complete, and beyond her wall, there was work still going on. I don’t exactly know what they were doing, only that it was pretty loud, and far far worse, that it smelled.

My friend complained to her boss, but this boss of hers had only bought just enough space for the company office, and there was nowhere else to put her. She asked to switch with someone else, no one was interested. She asked if she could use the conference room, but no, that’s where they were going to have clients, and they couldn’t put clients in the loud, smelly office in the back. So, he told her, she’d just have to deal with it. Hopefully, they’d finish the work soon.
The work went on, she went back to her office like a champ and worked through the first week. She worked halfway through the second week, complained again, received an assurance her boss would look into it (though there’s no evidence he ever did), and then she went back to work again.

By then, she was starting to get headaches. By the third week, her eyes started getting blurry while she was in the room. Finally, she asked to go home early, get to her place, threw up, and passed out. When she woke up, she went to the emergency room and was there for a couple of days. They said she’d been poisoned by something. They ran tests, and it looks like it was the stuff from the other office.

Now, here’s the worst part. When she told her boss, he told her that it must have been something else that caused her problem. He accused her of all sorts of things, from embellishing to doing drugs, and said that since she didn’t pass out at work, she wasn’t entitled to workman’s comp. Then, he said if she couldn’t come in soon, he has to find a replacement.

Which brings us to now, and my friend living on my couch. She’s in contact with a lawyer about all of this, and it looks like she has a solid case. The last I heard, someone else in the office started feeling sick as well. I just hope she can sue this boss of hers for all he’s worth. Someone like that doesn’t deserve to have a business.

Workplace Accidents decline in Illinois

According to the Illinois Workers Compensation Commission, the rate of work-related injury in Illinois is 66% lower in 2011 compared to two decades ago. There were 3,201 injuries per 100,000 workers associated with workplace accidents in that year, compared to 9,539 in 1990. The breakdown for these injuries includes medical only (2,138), temporary total disability (505), permanent partial disability (554), permanent total disability (1), and fatal (2). The actual number of fatal accidents for 2011 is 177 compared to 260 in 1992.

This is good news in terms of cold numbers; not so good for those who are actually injured or die. A Champaign workers’ compensation lawyer would be aware of how even missing a work for a couple of weeks can be a serious problem for many employees. Fortunately, workers’ compensation insurance pays for their medical expenses and lost days of work. That is, if the employer or insurance does not dispute the claim.

Worker’s comp is supposed to protect workers from the consequences of workplace accidents on a no-fault basis, so you would imagine that employers would have no reason to deny a claim. However, insurance companies increase the premiums of an employer that process claims, so the employer is motivated to deny workers’ comp claims as much as possible. According to the website of Ravid and Associates, making workers’ comp claim is a complex process. You can be denied benefits simply for making an incomplete report or that the accident happened off-site, although you were on company business. The employer will seize on any excuse to deny your claim.

It can be frustrating when this happens, but you do have legal options. Consult with a workers’ comp lawyer in Illinois or whatever state you are in when your claim is denied. It can make a lot of difference on your chances of getting the benefits you are entitled to.