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Illinois Workers Compensation FAQs
What is workers’ compensation?
Workers’ compensation consists of a number of different kinds of benefits provided by State law to most workers who have suffered job-related injuries or illnesses under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. The Act is administered by the Illinois Industrial Commission, which is a State agency. The Act was enacted by the Illinois General Assembly in 1911 to provide financial protection and security to almost any worker who sustains an injury or illness while on the job. Almost every employee in the State of Illinois is covered by the Act from the moment their employment begins with their employer, and benefits are paid to an injured worker regardless of who is at fault for the injury.
What happens if I am injured on the job or if I contract a job-related illness?
You are probably entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
How Long After An Injury Do I Have To Report It To My Employer?
You should notify your employer immediately of any work related injury. Illinois law states that notification must be given within 45 days from the date of the injury. If you fail to give notice of your injury within this 45 day window, you may lose all rights and benefits under the Workers’ Compensation Act.
What injuries, diseases or illnesses are covered by workers’ compensation?
Workers’ compensation benefits generally apply to injuries that are caused by the employee’s work, and also apply when a previous injury or illness is aggravated by the employee’s work. Injuries which are caused by repetitive stress, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, are covered in addition to such as physical problems that are directly caused by a worker’s employment.
Is the employer responsible for payment if I wish to be seen by another doctor?
The employer is responsible for emergency services, physicians and hospital stays, and any additional medical care providers to whom the injured worker is referred by the above. Certain restrictions are specified in the Act. You should consult with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in order to protect your rights regarding your employer’s payment for your medical treatment.
Can I choose my own doctor or hospital?
You may, within certain restrictions as are specified in the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. The employer is responsible for 100% of all reasonable and necessary medical, surgical and hospital expenses. In many cases you can see up to two doctors of your own choice, and your employer is also responsible for paying the charges made by any other doctors or hospitals to whom you are referred by either of your first two choices of doctors. However, if your employer maintains a Preferred Provider list, you are required to select a treater from that list as your first choice of doctor, or else forfeit that first choice. In that case, you will be entitled to only one doctor of your own choice. In our opinion, the doctors on an employer’s Preferred Provider list are biased in favor of the employer and should not be seen. Because declining to treat with your employer’s doctors will leave you with only one choice of doctor, it is important that you contact us before beginning treatment so that we can review with you your doctors and make the best use of your choice.
What is the statute of limitations regarding the filing of a workers’ compensation claim in Illinois?
Generally speaking, the statute of limitations for the filing of a workers’ compensation claim is three years, although certain conditions are specified in the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. You should act as promptly as is practical to ensure your rights under the Act.
Can I be fired from my employment for applying for workers’ compensation?
Illinois law specifically prohibits an employer from firing injured employees for exercising their right to compensation under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. The firing of employees for exercising their rights under the Act may give rise to a separate legal action against the employer.
My Employer Has Denied My Claim, What Do I Do?
If you receive notice that your claim has been denied or benefits are suspended, you may file a claim with the Illinois Industrial Commission. This must be done within 3 years of the date of the injury or within 2 years of the latest benefit payment, whichever date is later. You must file an Application for Adjustment of Claim with the Illinois Industrial Commission. You can do this by contacting the Illinois Industrial Commission at the number listed below. You also may have the right to a hearing before an arbitrator of the commission if you are not receiving benefits.
Who pays these benefits?
The employer pays workers’ compensation benefits, either directly or through an insurance company.
What if my doctor returns me to full duty employment, but I feel that I am unable to perform that job anymore?
You should follow your doctor’s recommendation and attempt to return to work. The more positive your attitude toward returning to work, the better it is for your workers’ compensation claim in the long run. If you experience pain and discomfort upon your return to work you should report this to your supervisor and make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.
What if someone other than my employer is responsible for my work-related injury or illness?
You may have a legal cause of action referred to as a “third party claim” against the party or parties responsible for your work injury. The most common forms of “third party claims” are vehicular accidents and product liability claims. In cases such as these a claim may be filed in State or federal court against the other driver and their insurance company, or the manufacturer that produced a defective product which led to your injury or disease. If recovery of damages is made against a third party, your employer may be entitled to reimbursement of some or all of the benefits paid out in your workers’ compensation claim. Such reimbursement should be made by the third party or their insurer.
Am I able to pursue workers’ compensation benefits even though I am no longer working for the employer I was working for at the time I was injured?
Yes, assuming you have complied with all of the other conditions specified by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act.
Can my employer ask me to submit to an examination by its own physician?
Yes, but such an examination, which may be known as an “independent medical evaluation,” must be done at the employer’s expense and must also be performed at a time and place that is reasonable for the injured worker to attend. If applicable, the employer is responsible for payment of the employee’s time lost from employment for the doctor’s examination. Be aware that your employer has sent you to their examining physician in order to obtain the injury history, diagnosis and prognosis they want, in order to minimize or even deny your claim. Therefore, you should be specific in advising your employer’s physician or medical evaluator about the specifics of your injury and medical treatment, and that your injury was directly caused by your employment.
Under what conditions am I able to ensure that I will be able to receive future medical treatment for my work-related injury?
Having a hearing before an Arbitrator at the Illinois Industrial Commission is the only legal method for preserving your right to future medical treatment. When you settle your claim with your employer for a lump-sum payment of PPD, you forever close out your right to receive any future medical treatment for your work-related injury unless such a provision is specified in your settlement contract with your employer
What happens when I settle my workers’ compensation claim?
You may be closing out any further claim to workers’ compensation benefits regarding your injury upon you acceptance of a settlement offer.
When should I retain counsel to represent me regarding my workers’ compensation claim?
You may need a competent workers’ compensation attorney to guide you through the claims process in order for you to obtain every benefit for which you are entitled to under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. Your employer will not advise you of your rights under the Act, and although many employers are not unfair toward their injured employees, they may not feel that it is in their best interest to protect and assist you in the recovery of benefits as are provided by the Act. You should be aware that their motivation and objectives are entirely different from yours.
How do I know whether I have a viable workers’ compensation claim?
Make an appointment with our office and we will be able to determine if you have a valid claim.