If you are unable to work because of an injury or illness that occurred on the job in Chicago, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. When a workplace injury happens, you may find yourself missing out on paychecks, accumulating medical bills, and being overwhelmed with paperwork. This can be an extremely stressful and uncertain time.
Thankfully, Illinois law protects workers from negative fallout related to job injuries by requiring employers to carry workers compensation insurance.
What is Workers Compensation and How Does It Work?
Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that is purchased by an employer to protect their employees from job-related injuries and illness. It provides a safety net for injured employees so that they are not left with no job and no money while trying to recover from an injury. Some jobs can be dangerous, and it shouldn’t be the responsibility of the worker to handle all the repercussions that come with an injury.
Under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, individuals who are hurt on the job can receive different types of financial support to cover their injury-related expenses. This includes:
- missed wages from time off work
- medical expenses
- job training if you have to change careers
- death benefits if a worker dies in a work-related incident
Unlike a personal injury claim, workers can qualify for benefits regardless of being at fault for a work-related accident. However, injured workers cannot recover compensation for damages typically awarded in a personal injury lawsuit.
Have You Been Injured on the Job?
Accidents and injuries happen everywhere, even on the job. This is especially true in certain careers and industries, such as:
- Working in construction
- Jobs that require the use of heavy machinery
- Inventory stocking
- Delivery driver
- Working for a moving company
- Landscaping and lawn service
- Iron and steel workers
- Agricultural work
- Truck drivers
- Garbage collection
- Fishing industry
But the fact is, accidents can happen even in relatively tame work environments.
For example, even an office worker can be injured on the job. Sitting at a computer all day can create injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome or vision problems. Or there could be a slippery floor or a staircase that may result in a fall. If these injuries go without proper medical attention, they can lead to further more severe injuries down the line.
Common Causes of Workplace Injuries
The top three leading causes of work-related injuries account for more than 84% of all nonfatal injuries at work. This includes:
- overexertion and repetitive motion injuries
- slip and fall injuries
- injuries from contact with equipment and objects
Overexertion and Repetitive Motion Injuries
Overexertion injuries can occur when a worker uses excessive physical effort to do a task and becomes injured. This includes lifting, pushing, turning, holding, carrying, or throwing.
Repetitive motion caused by stress or strain on some part of the body is due to the repetitive nature of the task. Common repetitive tasks include lifting boxes, typing on a computer, using a ten-key machine, sitting for long hours, and working on a production line.
Slip and Fall Injuries
Slip and fall accidents are one of the most common on-the-job injuries. They account for 25% of annual injury claims, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Falls at work include falling from slippery floors, from tripping, and from heights like ladders, roofs, scaffolding, or other structures.
Injuries from Contact with Equipment and Objects
Contact with equipment and objects refers to injuries that occur when a person is hit by something or runs into something. This can include a worker being struck by a moving object, bumping into or being pushed in front of an object, being crushed in equipment, or being caught in wire or rope. It may also include incidents like a worker being struck or crushed by collapsing structures, equipment, or materials.
Workers’ Comp May Also Cover Occupational Illnesses
In addition to being injured, workers can also get sick with an illness because of their job. When this happens, workers compensation insurance is designed to help cover some of the costs.
Occupational illnesses include diseases that arise from hazardous work environments or workplace exposures. Some common illnesses that occur on the job include:
- Hearing loss
- Respiratory diseases
- Skin conditions
- Toxic chemical poisoning
Cases involving work-related illness are complex for a few different reasons. One of the main reasons is that you will have to prove that your illness was caused by your job, and not from some other factor like genetics or something that happened during your personal time. This is further complicated by the fact that many illnesses develop over time, which makes them harder to notice and to pinpoint the origin.
Read on to learn more about the frequent questions our Chicago workers’ compensation lawyers get asked.
Work Comp FAQ
Here are the answers to several frequently asked questions about workers’ compensation in Illinois:
Why is There Work Comp?
Because work injuries are so common, most states have created employment laws that require participation in a workers’ compensation insurance system, paid for by employers, that compensates employees in the event that they get injured on the job.
The purpose of such workers compensation programs is to provide a sure means for workers to obtain a remedy for the financial impacts of work-related injuries. It is also meant to avoid the inconsistent applications, results, and costs that come with attempting to compensate employees through personal injury lawsuits.
What Law Governs Workers’ Compensation in Illinois?
In Illinois, the first workers’ compensation law was enacted in 1912. The law which currently governs workers compensation is called the Workers’ Compensation Act. Claims are overseen by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission.
Under the current law, employers must purchase workers’ compensation insurance policies, or, if they meet certain requirements, they may self-insure. The premium rates are dependent upon the type of business and the number of employees. For example, businesses or jobs that carry a higher risk of injury will pay a higher premium.
If you sustain an injury or contract a disease that is related directly to your employment, you may make a claim for compensation against your employer’s workers’ compensation policy.
Do All Illinois Employers Have to Carry Workers Comp Insurance?
Illinois law requires businesses to have workers’ compensation insurance if they have at least one employee, even if they work part time. But certain types of employers are excluded from this requirement. This includes sole proprietors, corporate officers, business partners, limited liability companies (LLC).
This means that even though you were injured while at work, you may not have coverage through your employer. However, you should check because there are exceptions to the exceptions. For example, jobs that are particularly hazardous are still required to have workers compensation insurance. Additionally, employers that are exempt are still required to have some amount of insurance to protect their employees.
What Benefits Can I Receive Under Work Comp?
Depending upon the nature, endurance, and severity of your injury, Illinois workers’ compensation benefits can cover:
- Medical expenses
- Ongoing medical care
- Temporary disability benefits
- Temporary partial disability benefits
- Vocational rehabilitation benefits
- Permanent partial disability benefits
- Permanent disability benefits.
- And, if there is a fatality, the survivors of the employee may be able to receive death benefits
What Should I Do if I Am Injured at Work?
If you become injured in the course of your employment, you should always report the accident, injury, or condition as soon as possible to your employer. This is important even if an injury seems minor. This, because injuries that appear minor at first can become much more serious in the coming days or weeks.
For example, an injury that may seem like just a strained muscle can turn out to be a symptom of permanent nerve damage. Or a sore low back from lifting a heavy object could be a disc herniation that needs surgery.
Further, you should always have a job-related injury evaluated by a medical professional. This is the only way to find out the extent of your injury, and what can be done to recover. This is particularly important for stress or repetitive motion injuries. Here, making changes in the ergonomic environment may not only cure the injury, but help to prevent injuries to others. Further, to preserve the long-term ability of a worker to keep and carry on in his or her job.
Finally, waiting too long to report an injury on the job may foreclose your right to claim any workers’ compensation benefits.
When Should I Hire a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in Chicago?
Short answer: you should consult with a Chicago work injury attorney ASAP.
The purpose of Workers’ Compensation Insurance is to avoid the difficulties of seeking a remedy through a lawsuit. However, it does not mean that filing a claim and obtaining benefits will be smooth sailing. Unfortunately, that is rarely the case.
Workers’ compensation laws and insurance contracts can be confusing. And, obtaining the right level of benefits requires more than just filling out paperwork. It often requires the help of a lawyer to fight for your rights.
While the intent of workers’ compensation is to provide you with protection, insurance companies are experts at minimizing their exposure. Even when insurance companies seem to be responsive, problems can arise that lead to delays, limitations, or outright denials of claims. These problems can be devastating when medical bills are piling up or you are unable to return to your original job to earn an income.
When any of these problems arise, you need the advice and advocacy of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney in Chicago to make sure that your rights are protected. This is particularly true when the work comp insurance carrier is represented by seasoned adjusters and lawyers.
What Issues Could Arise in my Work Injury Claim?
Problems can arise in many ways. For example:
- Even if the workers’ compensation insurance company pays out some benefits to you, it may be paying out less than what you are entitled to.
- Or they may deny a benefit to which you lawfully should receive, such as disability pay.
- The insurance company may give you erroneous information about which doctors you may see to treat your injury.
- They may limit the type and number of medical treatments that you may receive. Or they may even claim that your injury is not due to your job and deny your claim completely.
An experienced Illinois workers compensation attorney can protect and enforce your rights. He or she will review your claim to make sure that you are getting full compensation for your injury.
How Long Do I Have To Report A Work Injury?
Illinois law requires you to report any injury within 45 days. However, you should report the injury as soon as possible. You can tell your boss or supervisor verbally or in writing.
Not properly reporting your injury is suspicious and leaves room for doubt about how and where your injury occurred. This can result in your employer disputing the case or outright denying it.
What Are Possible Third-Party Claims?
Your attorney can also assess whether you may have a possible third-party claim in addition to workers’ compensation benefits. For example, if you suffer an injury in a car accident while carrying out company business. Here, you may have two separate cases. You may have a workers’ compensation claim, and also against a third-party claim against a negligent driver.
And if disputes arise as to where, whether, or how you got your injury, or regarding the extent of your injury or extent of treatment necessary, leading to a hearing before the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, having an attorney represent you will be indispensable. This is due to the complications of these laws and regulations, and the technical procedural rules that apply at such hearings.
Should You Contact a Chicago Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?
Consequently, if sustain an on-the-job injury in Chicago, contact the Chicago personal injury attorneys at Abels & Annes. Don’t go through these difficult times on your own. We are here to help you with your claim. We understand the causes and impacts of work accidents and injuries. Also, we know the laws and regulations related to workers’ compensation in Illinois and will work to maximize the compensation you receive.
If you suffer a serious work injury in Chicago or in any of the surrounding communities, contact Abels & Annes at (312) 924-7575, or simply use our online case evaluation form right here on this website. If you want to avoid problems from the outset, or if you run into any difficulties with a workers’ compensation claim, do not wait until your problems become unmanageable. You can talk to qualified and competent Illinois workers’ compensation attorneys today at Abels & Annes.