Chicago Workers Comp Attorney To Handle Your Worker Compensation work injury lawsuit
Our Chicago Law Firm is busy, BUT if you suffer from a work place injury and need to speak with a Chicago workers comp attorney, we are here to answer your questions. Approximately 4 million workers are injured in work-related accidents in the U.S. annually. Illinois accounts for nearly 200,000 of these occupational injuries alone, with a large percentage specifically in Chicago. A majority of Chicago workers are covered by the Illinois workmans comp Act, which provides workmans comp in the event they have suffered with a work injury related during hours of employment.
Chicago workers compensation is a type of insurance that employers buy into. Nearly every business in Illinois is required to obtain workers comp, even if they only have one part-time employee. Upon being hired, any Chicago workers become eligible for Illinois workers compensation. When a worker is injured, they may file a workers comp claim with the Illinois workers comp Commission (IWCC) to receive benefits to cover injury damages, including payment of medical expenses and lost income for missed time off work.
Common Workplace Injuries Covered by Workers Compensation
There is a chance of workplace injury on any job, but certain industries run a greater risk than others. In Illinois, roughly 22 percent of occupational injuries occur in the transportation industry, 11.7 percent in manufacturing, 11 percent in construction, and 6.2 percent in agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting. Likewise, workers in those industries are more likely to have serious physical injuries than an office worker who would be more prone to repetitive motion injuries, such as carpal tunnel. Across all industries, common types of workplace injuries that workers can claim benefits for include:
- Sprains/strains – Sprains and strains are caused when ligaments are stretched or torn around the joint. These types of injuries are often the results of falls or twists in awkward positions. Other contributing factors include fatigue, lifting improperly, repetitive motions, and forceful exertions.
- Slips, Trips, and Falls – Among the most common types of accidents, slips and falls lead to everything from minor injuries to fatalities. In fact, after transportation accidents, these types of accidents are the leading cause of incapacitating and fatal injuries. Older workers, in particular, are at higher risk for injuries when falling because of naturally weakening bones.
- Transportation Accidents – Motor vehicle accidents are a major source of injures both on and off the job. They can lead a myriad of different injuries including head and neck traumas, brain injury, fractures, whiplash, and many others. Naturally, the workers most at risk for these types of injuries are truck drivers and other transportation workers. Transportation accidents are a leading cause of workplace fatalities.
- Equipment/machinery injuries – Especially in manufacturing and construction industries, there is a high risk of being injured on equipment. Many of these injuries can be prevented through proper safety procedures and proper maintenance of equipment. Types of injuries sustained on equipment include lacerations, burns, crushed or severed body parts, blindness, and many other horrifying injuries.
Fractures – Older workers in particular are at risk for bone fractures, including arms, legs, and ribs. Many cases are related to trauma and osteoporosis. Fractures are also a common result in many transportation and fall accidents. If a fall takes place be sure to look for a Chicago injury law firm that has a “Chicago slip and fall attorney” (someone with experience in fall injuries).
Exposure to harmful substances – Workers who spend time in environments with chemicals or other hazardous substances run the risk of being injured from exposure. Over a third of injuries in the U.S. of this kind occur in chemical manufacturing, but there are also significant numbers in educational services, truck transportation, and food manufacturing.
Repetitive Motion Injuries – These type of injuries develop over time, occurring when a person repeatedly does the same motion. These may affect muscles, nerves, ligaments, and tendons. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a fairly common repetitive motion injury among office workers.
Regardless of what type of injury the worker sustains, under workers compensation law says that as long as the injury occurred while performing work activities, the worker would qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. For certain accidents where a third party is at fault, as might be possible in a transportation accident, the worker would also be able to file a third party lawsuit, with a workers comp attorney, in addition to workmens compensation.
Benefits Available Through Workers Comp Claims
Injured Chicago workers may be entitled to three main types of compensation after being injured on the job (contact a work related injury lawyer for clarification) as stipulated by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. Generally benefits to replace lost wages are given at a rate of two-thirds of the weekly wages, although no worker may receive more or less than the maximums and minimums. In addition, workers are entitled to increased benefit amounts if they have dependents. Chicago workers who are injured could be entitled to any of the following:
- Medical Benefits – When a worker is injured, the employer is obligated to pay for the medical expenses necessary for that worker to recover or be relieved of the injury. This may include a variety of expenses including emergency care, hospitalization, visits to the doctor, surgery, physical therapy, prescriptions, and medical devices. In some cases this could include a wheelchair or shoe lift. When injuries require physical modifications to the injured worker’s home, the employer may also be responsible for covering these costs as well. Generally, the injured worker has a choice of which medical provider they wish to see as long as the doctor is part of the employer’s Preferred Provider Program. In Illinois, injured workers may choose two physicians and receive medical care from them as well as any other specialists either of those physicians refer them to.
- Benefits for Temporary Disabilities –
According to workmans comp laws, When a worker sustains a temporary disability they may receive either temporary partial disability (TPD) or temporary total disability (TTD) benefits. These benefits should begin on the fourth calendar day of missed work. If a worker misses 14 days of work, the employer must retroactively pay for the first three days of missed work in addition to continuing TTD benefits. Once the maximum recovery has been achieved with available medical treatment, temporary disability benefits stop. However, the worker may qualify for vocational rehabilitation or maintenance benefits if they cannot return to their normal work at a reduced pay and need to spend time in vocational retraining or job placement. This may include counseling during job searches, supervised job search programs, and education programs. The maintenance benefits will not be less than TTD rates. For more complicated worker comp cases, a qualified workers comp attorney can assist.
- Benefits for Permanent Disabilities – If after reasonable medical treatment, the injured worker has recovered as much as possible, but is left with permanent disabilities they may qualify for permanent partial disability (PPD) or permanent total disability (PTD) benefits. There are four different types of partial disability that a worker may have. Death/survivors’ benefits are also available to primary beneficiaries, which includes the spouse and children under the age of 18, of workers who sustained fatal injuries. For certain injuries, permanent disability workers compensation benefits may be lifelong. A case requiring permanent benefits would most likely require the assistance of a workers compensation attorney.
The maximum and minimums for benefits are set according to the statewide average weekly wage (SAWW) which is documented and updated every six months by the Illinois Department of Employment Security. Depending on the circumstances of the case and which benefits are in question, the injured workers can expect to receive rates that are based on the latest SAWW. Any benefits received under workers’ compensation are not considered taxable income and, thus, do not need to be reported on tax returns. For tax ramifications or legal issues regarding collection of workers comp, neither a Chicago personal injury lawyer nor a workers comp attorney of any kind can legally advise on taxes. Workers compensation laws may even require special knowledge in regards to taxes and workman comp benefits.
After A Work Accident – Should You Seek a workers comp attorney or a Chicago lawyer that practices general law?
When a worker is injured on the job, it is imperative to follow the appropriate procedure in handling the accident. Chicago attorneys usually have certain areas of focus. Therefore it is better to contact a workers compensation law firm and speak to a workers comp attorney. The failure to follow the handbook guidelines, may delay benefits, or disqualify a person from collecting any workmans comp claim altogether. After a workplace accident the following measures are considered best practices for employees:
- Report the Accident/Injuries to the Employer – When an employee is in an accident, it is their responsibility to report it to the employer either orally or in writing, although a written notification is preferable. The report should include the approximate date and place of the accident if at all possible. It is best to report accidents as soon as possible, but no later than 45 days (or 90 days for radiation exposure) after the incident. Delays in notification typically translate into delays for benefits, and failure to report accidents promptly is one of the most common reasons for denial of otherwise sound claims. If you are not sure how to proceed definitely contact one of our Chicago law firms for a free consultation.
- Seek medical treatment – After an accident, the first priority for the injured worker should be getting the medical care they need. For the purposes of the claim, it is important to begin documenting treatment right from the start. Illinois law allows injured workers to be seen by two physicians; if your employer has a “Preferred Provider Program” (PPP) doctor, you can only see one doctor outside the program. It is important to note, however, that emergency room physicians are excluded from this rule. A worker that goes outside these regulations releases the employer from the obligation of paying for medical bills.
- Document the Incident – If at all possible, at the time of the accident do your best to document what happened and when. This includes details about what task you were performing, any equipment you were using, and so on. Take photos of any injuries if you can and take statements from witnesses. Don’t leave this up to the workers comp attorney, if you do it may be too late.
- File a Claim with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission – A claim must be filed within three years of the incident or within two years after the date of the final compensation payment. The worker should fill out an Application for Adjustment Claim and submit it to their employer and, if necessary, to the IWCC.
The employer also has a responsibility to follow correct procedures. After the employee has notified the employer of the accident, the employer must provide the injured worker the medical care they need. In addition, the the employer should report the workers compensation claim to their insurance carrier or workers’ compensation administrator, even if they intend to dispute the workers comp claim. In cases where the injured employee is unable to return to work for more than three days, the employer must either begin paying benefits on the fourth; give the employee written notice of what additional information is needed to begin payments; or provide a written explanation of why benefits are denied. According to workers comp law, if an employer refuses to report the accident, they may be subject to disciplinary action and the worker should file their claim for the workers comp settlement directly with the IWCC.
Using A workers comp attorney to File Workers Compensation Claims For Workman Compensation
After reporting the workplace accident to their supervisor, injured Chicago workers can begin the process of filing a claim. Any worker, whether full-time or part-time, who is injured in Illinois or was hired in Illinois has the right to file a claim. To start the claims process the worker must file a copy of the Application for Adjustment Claim to their employer. One of our workers comp attorneys in our Chicago law firm can help you.
When a worker wants to dispute benefits or has any other issues they should file three copies of the same form, supplemented by a Proof of Service that certifies the employer has been given a copy, with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC). This can either be done through the mail or in person at any Commission office locations. The injured worker will then be given a case number, an arbitrator, and a three-month period in which the worker will receive a status call to request a trial. The IWCC serves as a mediator only when disputes arise in the claims process.
Illinois Work Laws – Penalties for Employers Who Fail to Obtain Workers’ Compensation Insurance
When employers willfully do not buy into the workers’ compensation insurance they face significant penalties. For each day the employer is in noncompliance they can be fined up to $500, with the minimum fine being $10,000. Furthermore, corporate officers may become personally liable if the company does not pay the penalty and could be charged with a Class 4 felony if they negligently did not obtain insurance. Finally, the employer may be ordered to halt all business operations by the Commission until proof of workers compensation benefits (workers compensation insurance Chicago IL). is provided.
If a worker is injured while the company does not have insurance, a lawsuit can be filed against the employer in civil court, where workers comp settlements can be unlimited. During the trial, the employer must also prove they are not negligent.
Circumstances That May Require a Workers Comp Attorney
In the immediate aftermath of a workplace injury, many workers wonder if they need a workmans comp attorney to handle the claims process. While consulting with a workers comp attorney can be useful for any case, typically an injured worker can represent themselves if the following is true:
- The injuries sustained were relatively minor and required minimal medical attention;
- The employer admits the injury happened while the employee was fulfilling job duties;
- The injured employee missed very few or no work days as the result of injuries; and/or
- The injured employee has no pre-existing conditions.
When complications in the workers’ compensation arise, filing directly with the IWCC and contacting an attorney is in the best interest of the injured worker. Some common reasons an injured worker should contact a workmans comp attorney include the following scenarios:
- When the employer denies the injured employee’s claim or benefits are not received in a timely manner – It is not uncommon for employers to deny legitimate workers’ compensation claims. Since they pay insurance premiums, any claims filed will affect them monetarily. Roughly 80 percent of workers who have their claims denied do not file for an appeal and, consequently, miss out on benefits. Under these circumstances, hiring an attorney gives the injured worker the best chance of securing a settlement to cover their losses.
- If the employer takes any retaliatory measures after the injured worker files a claim – It is illegal under Illinois laws for the employer to fire, cut hours, harass, threaten, or punish an injured worker for filing a claim. If the employer takes retaliatory action, the injured worker has the right to file a retaliation or whistleblower lawsuit against the employer.
- The injured worker sustained severe injuries that prevent them from performing all previous job duties or from returning to their job altogether – Work injuries that are serious enough to leave the worker with either permanent total or partial disabilities often mean the worker is entitled to lifetime payments. Insurance companies are notorious for trying to pay out as little as possible and having an attorney is highly advisable to prevent the insurers from bullying the victim into a low settlement.
- If the settlement offered by the employer does not cover all lost wages or medical bills – Workers’ compensation settlements are approved through judges and sometimes settlement amounts do not meet the costs associated with the injury. Even with insufficient settlements, a judge may approve the amount if it is not completely unreasonable. Typically working with an attorney is the best way to secure the maximum settlement possible.
- If the injured worker receives Social Security disability benefits – When a settlement is not structured properly, Social Security can claim a large portion of the benefits. Working with an attorney can help minimize or completely offset this issue.
- The accident potentially involved a third-party claim – Certain accidents that occur may be due to negligence of a third party, such as when a delivery person is injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by another driver or defective products are to blame. An attorney can help the injured worker file a civil suit that may offer a larger settlement amount than just workers’ compensation would.
Most work injury lawyers in Chicago do offer free consultations and our Chicago law firm is no exception. If you are a worker that was injured on the job and would find it useful to speak to a workers comp attorney feel free to call one of our Chicago firms. A work comp attorney can help explain what a worker should expect from workers’ compensation, including what their rights are, what benefits they could expect, and if the case is simple enough to manage on their own.
Contact our Chicago law firm to find Chicago’s best workers comp attorney to help advise you on your workers comp case. We have a Chicago workers comp attorney available to answer your questions today.