Chiropractor’s Care Curbed by Arbitrator

In a recent case tried before the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission pursuant to Section 19(b) of the Act, G. Steven Murdock of our office secured a victory using a “full-duty, MMI” opinion from Dr. Richard Shermer.  The case involved a claimant who, following an accepted work accident, received conservative care for a lumbar spine injury with a physical medicine and chiropractic care facility in Chicago for what was diagnosed as a protruding lumbar disk.  Approximately five months after the accident, Dr. Shermer performed an IME, diagnosed the claimant with a lumbar strain, and concluded the claimant had reached maximum medical improvement and could return to work without restrictions.  Despite this, the claimant continued receiving soft tissue treatment and chiropractic manipulations at the same clinic for another year, during which time the clinic also authorized the claimant to remain off work.  When she was finally released by that clinic to return to light duty work, the claimant did so, but was then terminated when she refused to leave the respondent’s premises during a fire alarm.

At trial, Respondent argued that the claimant should not be entitled to medical and TTD benefits based upon the opinions of Dr. Shermer and, in the alternative, should not be entitled to TTD benefits after her termination by the company for just cause.  The case was tried the week before the Illinois Supreme Court Decision in Interstate Scaffolding v. IWCC, but we argued that this case could be distinguished from Interstate as the claimant here should be denied TTD benefits as her termination was for a serious breach of safety rules and procedures and an award of TTD for this would be contrary to public policy.

The arbitrator adopted Respondent’s position that Dr. Shermer’s opinions were more credible than those of the treating physician and chiropractor and denied any claim for medical and TTD after the date of Dr. Shermer’s evaluation of the claimant.  The case is being taken up on Review by the petitioner and her attorney.

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