Frequently Asked Questions About Illinois Workers' Compensation
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The following are common questions we are asked by people who have reached out to us about an Illinois workers' compensation claim.
What should I do if I am injured at work?
According to the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act, you must notify your employer of your accidental injury or illness within 45 days of the accident, either orally or in writing.
If you must lose time from work to recover from the injury or illness, you may be entitled to receive weekly payments and necessary medical care until you are able to return to work that is reasonably available to you. A delay in notifying the employer can result in a delay in the payment of benefits.
What workers are covered by the Act?
Every worker injured in Illinois, hired in Illinois but injured while working in another state or injured while working in another state for an employer whose principle place of business in Illinois, is covered by the Act.
What injuries are covered by the Act?
Workers' compensation benefits generally apply to injuries that are caused by the employee's work, and also apply when a previous injury or illness is aggravated by the employee's work. Injuries that are caused by repetitive stress, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, are covered, as well as strokes, heart attacks and other physical problems that are directly caused by a worker's employment.
Can I still file a claim even though my condition is pre-existing?
Yes. You are not barred from filing a claim if you sustain a work-related injury to a previously injured part of your body, regardless of whether the previous injury was work-related. Similarly, if you sustain an accident that aggravates or accelerates a pre-existing physical condition, you are still entitled to all workers' compensation rights and benefits.
What are the benefits available?
You have the right to Temporary Total Disability (TTD) while you are unable to work. You have the right to reasonable and necessary medical, surgical and hospital expenses covered at 100% - no deductibles and co-payments. Additionally, you may have the right to Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) in some cases in the form of a settlement/award. Depending on your physical limitation you may be entitled to vocational rehabilitation. The spouse and dependents of workers that die as a result of a work related injury are also entitled to lost wages and other expenses.
How long will it take for my workers' compensation claim to be resolved?
The length of time that it takes for workers' compensation claims to be resolved depends on the severity of the injury and the length of active medical treatment. Once your doctors have released you from their care, your attorney can begin preparing your case for settlement or arbitration.
If no acceptable settlement is offered, you may choose to present your claim to an arbitrator (judge) from the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission. Typically, the arbitrator will issue a decision within 2-3 months. If either party finds fault with the arbitrator's decision, there is a procedure to appeal that decision and seek addition review. An appeal will further delay the final resolution.
What is the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission?
All Illinois work injury claims are handled through the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission located at the Thompson Center in downtown Chicago. The Commission operates the state court system for workers' compensation cases. An arbitrator, whose decision may be reviewed by a panel of three commissioners, first tries an Illinois workers' compensation case.
Can I lose my job for filing an Illinois Workers' Compensation claim?
No. Employees cannot lose their jobs for filing workers' compensation cases. It is against the law for your employer to harass, discharge, refuse to rehire or in any way discriminate against an employee for exercising his or her rights under the Workers' Compensation Act. Such conduct by the employer may entitle the injured employee to bring a separate suit for damages.
Why can't I sue my employer in court for my injuries?
In Illinois, the only remedy a worker has against their employer is a workers' compensation claim filed with the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission. The good news is that you get benefits even if you were at fault or your employer did nothing wrong. The bad news is that you can't sue your employer or a co-worker for negligence.
What if someone other than my employer is responsible for my work-related injury or illness?
If someone other than your employer is responsible for your work-related injury or illness, an injured worker could have the right to receive substantial additional monetary damages in the form of a "Third Party" lawsuit if the facts and circumstances of the accident establish that a third party other than their employer or a co-worker is responsible for the accident.
How much time do I have to file a workers' compensation claim in Illinois?
Generally, the statute of limitations time limit for filing workers' compensation claims is within 3 years of the injury or disablement from an occupational disease, or within 2 years of the last workers' compensation payment, whichever is later. Claims for pneumoconiosis, radiological exposure, asbestos, or similar diseases have special time requirements. Claims that are not brought within the statute of limitations period are barred by the expiration of time and all benefits will be denied.
Can I afford to hire an attorney to represent me in my Illinois workers' compensation claim?
In workers' compensation cases, attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. This means that no attorney's fee is charged unless the injured person secures a recovery. If the injured person secures a recovery, the attorney receives a certain percentage of the recovery as his or her fee. In Illinois, the amount that can be charged by your lawyer for your worker's compensation claim is 20% of the injured employee's recovery.
If the insurance company is not paying my medical bills what should I do about collection agencies calling me?
It is against the law to try and collect outstanding medical bills when a case has been filed. Have your attorney notify the collection agency.
If you have any further questions about Illinois workers' compensation or would like a referral to a qualified and experienced Illinois workers' compensation attorney, please contact us.