Notice in Illinois Workers' Compensation Cases
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As part of the free guidance that we provide, we offer a lot of information on various topics in the law. For more information on the notice requirement in Illinois workers' compensation cases please read on.
If you are injured on the job, the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act states that you must notify your employer of your injury within 45 days of the accident. That is usually easy to do if you have a specific injury. For example, if you are walking in your office and slip on a wet floor resulting in an injured knee, you should no when you were hurt and that it was work related.
You are given 45 days to report your injury for a variety of reasons. The biggest is that most people try to work their way through injuries and not report every problem that they have. We often get called from people who felt a pain in their back while working, but didn't realize until a few days later that it was a problem that wasn't going away. It's not until that point that they report their injury.
Other people have repetitive trauma injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome. This normally isn't an injury from a one time occurrence, but rather is usually something that develops from performing the same activity over time. You might not know that your carpal tunnel is work related until it is diagnosed or a doctor tells you that it's work related. Either way, the moment that you believe you might have a work related problem from repetitive activity we suggest that you report it to your supervisor.
Failure to report an injury within 45 days can be a defense to a claim for an employer. In recent years, Illinois Courts have started to liberally interpret the notice requirement. They usually (but not always) find that if an employer hasn't been harmed in defending a case that late notice won't bar a case. Recently an Illinois Appellate Court even stated that your employer doesn't have to know that your injury is work related, rather they just have to know that you have an injury.
The bottom line in all of this is that if you are hurt on the job or have any injury at all, if you want to protect your workers' compensation rights you should report your problem to a supervisor and document somehow. Employers are supposed to complete an accident report any time an injury is reported, but they don't always do that. If you report an injury make sure that you do it in a way that can be proved by asking to fill out an accident report, sending a letter, bringing in a note from a doctor or having a witness to your conversation. Having a lawyer formally file your case right away is also a way to make sure that your employer can't contend that they didn't know about your problem
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