I am a Union member of Plumber & Pipefitters in Illinois. I had a worker's comp claim in 7/2012. It went to court & the award said the claimaint carrier should pay my medical bills & settlement. They are however appealing this. It will not go back to court until Spring of next year. I signed a paper for my Union to pay my medical bills through my insurance & also pay the Loss of Wage Benefit. I would then have to pay them back if I was awarded a settlement. They now refuse to pay my medical or the benefit saying it is a workers comp claim. It is almost a year since the injury & the hosp & dr want their money now. I have about $70,000 in med bills & I cannot pay these. Can I sue my Union for not paying the benefits I am entitled to as a Union Member paying Union Dues
No, you can't sue the union. Their contract undoubtedly says that if a third party or employer is responsible, they don't have to pay. Typical of these types of deals.
The other side knows exactly what they are doing by stringing you along at best, hoping the commissioners will reverse the decision of the arbitrator, at worst. Either way, you're stuck. I certainly hope you are not doing this without a lawyer, but fear you are based upon how you phrased the question.
If you do not have a lawyer, I suggest you interview one today. It is a tough process and you need an advoate. NOW.
Stephen L. Hoffman
Law Office of Stephen L. Hoffman LLC
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Workers' Compensation Lawyer
You or your attorney needs to write to the medical providers or the collections people that you are claiming that this is work related and give them your IL WORK COMP COMMISSION NUMBER. The law provides that they must suspend their efforts to collect while your claim is pending. MICHAEL LEBOVITZ
This information should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. It is not intended to solicit clients and does not constitute any type of transaction. Michael Lebovitz expressly disclaims all liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on the information provided. No attorney-client relationship exists without a signed Attorney Client Agreement.
What happened is that your attorney filed a motion for emergency hearing under section 19(b) rather than under section 19(b)(1). If your attorney had done the latter, it is likely that there would not have been an appeal. Moreover, if there was an appeal, it would be expedited. What's done is done. As my colleagues have told you, you cannot sue your union. If you have a denial letter from workers compensation, you can force group health insurance to accept a claim. Many unions are still self-insured and think they are playing by different rules. You have not disclosed the nature of your injury or how it is that you have $70,000 in medical costs. If you have already undergone surgery, what are your restrictions. There are number of questions here and there are a number of options available to you. If you proceeded to hearing without an attorney, it was an invitation to an appeal. If you do not already have an attorney, you need to hire an experienced workers compensation attorney as soon as possible.
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It sure sounds like you've had a rough time. That being said, I suggest you contact your business agent and explain the issue. As a Union member you are certainly entitled to benefits. However, give your Union the benefit of the doubt and ask them what can be done.
With regards to your medical bills, assuming these were incurred as a result of your work injury claim, write a generic letter to all the bill collectors, letting them know and provide them with your insurance adjuster's name and telephone number, along with the claim number. Send a copy to the insurance company. If you have an attorney, ask them to help you.
Please be advised that the advice provided does not create any attorney/client relationship; that due to the various state laws that the information provided is a general overview of work comp law, which might not be applicable to you, based upon the laws of your state. We will not file anything on your behalf nor protect any statute of limitations which might arise and recommend that you IMMEDIATELY consult legal counsel for advice.