Have You Been Injured on the Job?
Accidents and injuries happen everywhere, even on the job. This is especially true in certain manual labor positions, such as working in construction, jobs that require the use of heavy machinery, inventory stocking, or being employed to drive and deliver packages. But the fact is, accidents can happen even in relatively “tame” work environments such as offices, where sitting at a computer all day can create injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome or vision problems, or where a slippery floor or a staircase may result in a fall.
Because workplace 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 injured workers to obtain a remedy for the financial impacts of work-related injuries and to avoid the inconsistent applications, results, and costs that would be associated with attempting to compensate injured employees through personal injury lawsuits.
In Illinois, the first workers’ compensation law was enacted in 1912; the law which currently governs workers compensation is called the Workers’ Compensation Act, and it is overseen by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. As it is currently administered, all employers are required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance policies, or, if they meet certain requirements, they may self-insure. The premium rates are dependent upon how the business is classified and the number of people who are covered based on their job classification—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 without having to prove or show that the accident was a result of negligence or malfeasance, or fault of any kind. Workers compensation applies even if the injury is caused or partly caused through your own fault. 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, and permanent disability benefits. And, if a work injury causes death, then the survivors of a killed employee may be entitled to 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, since injuries that appear minor at the outset may occasionally have long-lasting or debilitating effects. For example, an injury that may seem like just a strained muscle can turn out to be a symptom of permanent nerve damage. Further, you should always have a job-related injury evaluated by a medical professional, to find out what the extent of the damage really is, and what can be done to alleviate, treat, or cure the injury. This is particularly important for stress or repetitive motion injuries, where making changes in the ergonomic environment may not only cure the injury, but help to prevent injuries to others and preserve the long-term ability of a worker to keep and carry on in his or her job. Further, waiting too long to report a work-related injury may foreclose your right to claim any workers’ compensation benefits.
When Should I Hire an Attorney to Assist Me With a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Although the purpose of Workers’ Compensation Insurance is to avoid the difficulties of seeking a remedy through a lawsuit, it does not mean that filing a claim and obtaining benefits through the workers’ compensation system is smooth sailing. Workers’ compensation laws and insurance contracts are complicated, and obtaining the right level of benefits requires more than just filling out paperwork.
While workers compensation is intended 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—and 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 to make sure that your rights are protected, particularly when your employer and their insurer are represented by seasoned professionals and lawyers whose sole business is built around understanding the workers’ compensation system.
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 deny a benefit to which you are lawfully entitled, such as disability pay. It may give you erroneous information about which doctor or doctors you may see to treat your injury, or try to limit the type and number of medical treatments that you may receive. It may claim that your injury is not work-related and deny your claim completely. An experienced Illinois workers compensation attorney can protect and enforce your rights, and review your claim to make sure that you are getting fully compensated for your injury.
Your attorney can also assess whether you may have legal claims in addition to those provided through workers’ compensation. For example, if you are injured in a car accident while carrying out company business, you may not only have a workers’ compensation claim with your company’s workers’ compensation insurer, but also against a third party—the 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 indispensible, given the complications of these laws and regulations and the technical procedural rules that apply at such hearings.
Consequently, if you are injured in an on-the-job incident in Chicago, contact the workers compensation attorneys at Abels & Annes to help you with your claim. We are well-versed in understanding the causes and impacts of work-related accidents, and we know the laws and regulations related to workers’ compensation in Illinois. If you have been involved in a serious work-related injury in Chicago or in any of the surrounding communities, contact Abels & Annes toll-free at (855) LAW-CHICAGO (855-529-2442), locally 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 get a qualified and competent Illinois workers’ compensation attorney right now at Abels & Annes to fight for your rights.