In Gonzalez v. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, a March 2020 case from the Appellate Court of Illinois, First District, the court agreed with the Commission’s conclusion that the claimant, Hugo Gonzalez, had not proven by a preponderance of the evidence that he sustained a knee injury in a fall while working. This finding made Gonzalez ineligible for workers’ compensation benefits because the claimant “must establish by a preponderance of the evidence that he suffered a disabling injury that arose out of and in the course of his employment,” to quote the unpublished opinion.
Why did the Commission find the claimant failed to prove a work-related injury?
Gonzalez delivered Chinese food supplies as an employee of A&D Logistics. He said that he fell about four feet from his delivery truck ramp as he descended with a loaded dolly when a wheel fell off, injuring his left knee.
The workers’ compensation arbitrator denied benefits and found that the claimant failed to prove he sustained a work-related accident and injury on March 17, 2016, which the Commission, trial court and appellate affirmed. The problems cited with the evidence and testimony that put his credibility on this issue in doubt were inconsistent dates of injury in the medical evidence and time-lapses when he did not seek medical treatment for the injury. It also found the testimony of the claimant and his friend not credible.
Manifest weight of evidence
The appeals court explained that it only reverses the Commission’s fact-finding if it was “contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence,” which means that “an opposite conclusion must be clearly apparent.” The court said that the medical evidence supported a knee condition but was not consistent about the cause.
Even if the court may have resolved the factual questions differently than the Commission, it must affirm them unless they were against the manifest weight of evidence. Here, there was “sufficient evidence in the record” to support the Commission’s conclusions.
Takeaways for workers’ compensation claimants
We provide information on this website about steps to take after you are injured in the course of your job. Takeaways from the Gonzalez case include:
- If you are injured, seek medical attention first. When you are medically stabilized, give notice to your employer as soon as possible. Follow up to be sure your report is documented in your file.
- Get all suggested medical care, including tests, scans and consultations with specialists. Review your medical records and request corrections of mistakes.
- If there is conflicting testimony or other evidence, provide explanation or additional evidence to clarify.
- Do not try to work through pain. If you have discomfort at work from the injury, consult with a physician about whether you should be working at all considering the injury or whether you can work at a less strenuous position or fewer hours.
An experienced Illinois workers’ compensation attorney can provide guidance, advice and representation to a claimant with a work-related injury or illness.