When they are injured on the job, most Chicago workers have the option of filing a claim for workers’ compensation. Nearly all employers across the state are required to purchase this special type of insurance that pays out benefits for medical expenses and lost wages to injured workers. The entire process of filing a claim in Illinois for workers’ compensation benefits begins with an injured employee reporting their accident and injuries to the employer. After an employee has reported an injury, it is the employer’s duty to report the accident and injury.
Unfortunately, many employers neglect to report accidents for various reasons. If an employer fails to report your workplace injury, there are options available in Illinois.
Employee Requirements for Reporting Accidents and Injuries
According to the regulations set up by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC), there a proper procedures for the reporting of accidents and injuries as they relate to workers’ compensation claims. Any time an accident occurs in the workplace, it should be reported to the employer or supervisor as soon as possible. In order to begin a workers’ compensation claim, the injured worker must submit either an oral or written notification to the employer that includes the approximate date and place of the accident. This notification should be submitted no later than 45 days after the date of the accident. The sooner the report, the sooner benefits can begin and any delays in notifications translate to delays in benefits.
Employer Requirements For Reporting Accidents and Injuries
Similarly, employers are also required to report accidents and injuries once they have been notified by the employees. They must report to the IWCC using the “Employer’s First Report of Injury” form. For any job-related deaths, a written report must be submitted within two working days. Employers have up to a month to report work-related injuries or illnesses that lead to more the three days of missed work.
Upon receiving notification of an accident the employer should take the following steps:
- Provide injured employees with any first aid or medical treatment necessary;
- Notify their insurance carrier or workers’ compensation administrator, regardless of whether they intend to dispute the claim; and
- If the injured employee is unable to return for more than three days due to their injury, the employer should either start temporary disability benefits or provide written statement of why the employee is being denied benefits or what additional information they need to begin benefit payments.
Just as employers can incur penalties for not having workers’ compensation insurance, they can also be subject to punishments for not reporting accidents.
Why Reporting Accidents is Important
Reporting accidents and injuries is crucial not only for workers to be able to receive workers’ compensation benefits, but also to improve workplace safety. Some employers may try to prevent workers from reporting accidents, injuries, and illnesses because they want to save themselves money in the short term. However, in the long run, a safer work environment is more cost effective and healthier for everyone. Even minor accidents that require no time off work or medical care should be be reported because they may help prevent larger-scale accidents in the future.
Employers may benefit when injuries and illnesses go unreported because they will likely have fewer inspections from OSHA and be able to minimize their workers’ compensation premiums. For workers, on the other hand, not reporting injuries can have many negative consequences including:
- Delays in diagnosis and treatment of injuries;
- Loss of workers’ compensation benefits for injuries sustained in the workplace;
- Potential loss of employment for workers with significant injuries with no documentation/proof that injuries were work-related;
- A more dangerous work environment for all employees and the potential for more serious injuries due to hazards that go unaddressed; and/or
- No documentation providing proof the employer is aware of hazards that violate OSHA regulations.
Certain employers will even offer programs to incentivize workers not to report accidents. However, even these misleading programs, although they reward workers, ultimately have the same negative effects.
What To Do When Your Employer Refuses to Report Injury
Because the employer is legally required to inform the IWCC of accidents and injuries, the failure to do so could result in being charged with a misdemeanor and a fine. If the employer has refused to report the injury to the IWCC, the injured worker can file a claim directly with the IWCC themselves. If the employer is refusing to report the injury, however, it likely means they will be uncooperative later on and even try to deny benefits. For this reason, if the worker’s job injury happened in Chicago than contacting an Chicago workers comp attorney would be in the best interest of the injured employee.
In order to file a claim with the IWCC, the injured worker must submit three copies of the Application for Adjustment Claim, accompanied by a Proof of Service confirming a copy of the application has been given to the employer. Once the claim has been filed, the IWCC will assign an arbitrator to the case and it will be put in a three-month rotation during which a status call will be given to request a trial. If the employer refuses to pay benefits on a valid claim, the IWCC will mediate as long as the injured employee who filed the claim follows the procedures to request a hearing.