Although most workers are automatically covered by workers’ compensation upon being hired, relatively few fully understand it. All procedures and practices are dictated by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. While some claims are relatively straightforward, others can be complicated. For this reason, Chicago workers who are injured on the job frequently have questions regarding workers’ compensation.
How Do I File a Claim?
After a worker is injured they can file a claim in one of two ways. The worker can begin the claim process by submitting the Application for Adjustment Claim directly to their employer who should take the appropriate measures for reporting the injury and providing benefits, including medical care and, if time off work is necessary, income benefits. It is also possible to file a claim directly with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC) by submitting three copies of the Application for Adjustment Claim, accompanied by a Proof of Service, a copy of which must be submitted to the employer. Although it is unnecessary to file a claim directly with the IWCC, an injured employee may wish to do so in case any problems arise.
How Much Time Do I Have To File A Claim?
To qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, injured workers should submit their claim within the time limits set by statute of limitations under Illinois law. For most cases, the claim must be submitted within three years of when the injury occurred or within two years of the date of the last temporary disability payment. Furthermore, all workers should notify their employer of accidents as soon as possible, but no later than 45 days after the incident.
What Type Of Injuries Are Covered By Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is designed to cover injured workers for any on-the-job injuries. Generally, this even includes injuries that were caused by negligence on the part of the employer or employee. However, there are circumstances where an injury would not qualify the worker for benefits. If a worker was injured in any of the following scenarios, it is unlikely that they would qualify for workers’ compensation:
- The worker was under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs;
- The injuries were self-inflicted;
- The worker was injured while committing a serious crime;
- If the injury was sustained while the worker was not on the job; or
- The worker was violating company policy when the injuries occurred.
What Benefits Am I Entitled To?
Typically a worker can expect to receive medical benefits and income benefits after filing a workers’ compensation claim. When a worker is injured, the employer is obligated to pay for the medical expenses necessary to treat the injuries. If the employee is required to miss work, the employer must also pay them temporary income benefits. Workers who sustain permanent injuries are also entitled to permanent disability income benefits.
I’m A Part-time Employee, Do I Qualify For Workers’ Compensation?
Yes. Any worker hired or working in Illinois, regardless of whether they work part-time or full-time, is entitled to workers’ compensation. Independent contractors, however, are not eligible. Furthermore, all workers are covered from the second they begin the job and may apply for benefits if they are injured, regardless of whether they have been on the job for 10 minutes or 10 years.
How Long Do I Have To Work Before I Am Covered by Workers’ Compensation?
There is no minimum amount of time required for a worker to be covered by workers’ compensation in Illinois. Upon being hired, any part-time or full-time employees are covered and eligible to receive benefits if they are injured on the job.
What Amount Of Money Can I Expect For My Claim?
How much money each claim is worth depends highly on the circumstances of the case, including how long the injury prevents you from working, the severity of injuries, the medical bills involved, and more. The employer is required to pay for the medical expenses that are necessary for the recovery or relief of the injury. If the injured employee misses work, they are also entitled to temporary total disability benefits (TTD). Maximum and minimum rates for TTD benefits are based on the Illinois statewide average weekly wage (SAWW). Temporary benefits are usually two-thirds of the worker’s weekly wage with increases for every dependant the injured worker can claim. If a worker is permanently disabled for the injury, they may be entitled to weekly payments for the rest of their life.
Can I Be Fired For Filing A Claim?
No. It is unlawful for employers to take any retaliatory measures against an injured worker for filing a workers’ compensation claim, including firing, cutting hours, changing shifts, harassment, or any other hostile attitudes or behavior. However, the employer can still terminate the worker for other valid reasons, unrelated to the injury claim. When an employer takes retaliatory action, the worker has the option of filing a retaliatory or whistleblower lawsuit against them. If you think your employer is punishing you for filing a workers’ compensation claim, you should speak to an attorney.
Do I Need To Hire A Lawyer?
While consulting a lawyer can be helpful to anyone who wants to get an experienced opinion on the strength of their case, there are many instances that a lawyer would be unnecessary. For work injuries that require little to no medical attention, do not lead to missed work days, and are acknowledged by the employer, typically there is no need for an attorney. However, if any of the following are true about your case, contacting an attorney would be prudent:
- Your employer denies the claim or fails to pay benefits;
- Your injuries require an extended period of time away from work and serious medical treatment or hospitalization;
- The employer takes retaliatory action against you for filing a claim;
- The benefits you receive do not cover your medical bills; and/or
- A third-party lawsuit is possible for the negligence of a party other than you or the employer.
Most attorneys offer free consultations and it may be helpful to discuss the specifics of the case, regardless of whether or not you believe you need an attorney.