Work-Related Injury FAQ’s
Q. What happens if I am injured on the job, or I become sick from something that is job related?
A. Most employees are entitled to worker’s compensation benefits under the Illinois Worker’s Compensation Act. The Illinois Worker’s Compensation Act is administered by a state agency known as the Illinois Worker’s Compensation Commission. This Act was enacted by the Illinois General Assembly in 1911 to provide financial protection and security to workers who are injured or suffer from job-related illnesses while on the job.
A. Employees whose injuries are caused by someone other then a co-worker, may have the right to additional compensation outside of the act.
Q. How does Worker’s Compensation help me if I have a work-related injury?
A. There are a number of different kinds of benefits provided by the state to workers who have suffered job-related injuries and/or illnesses.
- Almost all employees are covered by this Act in the state of Illinois upon starting a job.
- Benefits are paid to the injured worker regardless of who is at fault for the injury.
Q. Who pays for workers’ compensation benefits?
A. In Illinois, it is your employer’s responsibility to pay for workers’ compensation benefits. This can be either directly into the state fund or through an insurance company. Other states use a model that requires both employees and employers to pay into workers’ compensation plans.
Q. What work-related injuries are covered by workers’ compensation?
A. Work-related injuries including diseases and other illnesses caused by the employee’s work are covered by worker’s compensation. A previous injury that has been aggravated on the job is also covered.
Q. What types of benefits are provided by workers’ compensation?
A. A percentage of your gross average weekly earnings, including overtime, is paid to you while you are off work. This compensation is called Temporary Total Disability (TTD).
- A physician will determine the extent of your work-related injury or illness.
- If you have a second job to supplement your income and the employer whom you were working for when you were injured is aware of that second job, your temporary disability payments are based on the gross income from both jobs.
- Reasonable and necessary medical, surgical and hospital expenses are covered 100%.
- Limited physical, mental and vocational rehabilitation benefits will be provided when found appropriate.
- Permanent disability and dismemberment benefits may be compensated by way of a lump-sum payment or payments over time.
- If an injury causes the death of the worker, the worker’s spouse and/or dependents are entitled to certain benefits as specified in the Illinois Worker’s Compensation Act.
Q. How do I apply to receive workers’ compensation benefits if I have had a work-related injury?
A. Notify your employer immediately of your work-related injury or illness. Waiting around to “get better” will only jeopardize your ability to receive benefits. You can notify your employer in writing or verbally, however, it is very important that you:
- DO NOT submit to a recorded statement
- DO NOT sign any documents from your employer or their insurance carrier until you are able to have them reviewed by a competent worker’s compensation attorney
- DO keep your employer up to date on your medical condition
- DO notify your employer when you change doctors
Q. When should I begin receiving my temporary total disability benefits for my work-related injury?
A. Your employer or their insurance company is legally required to begin payment of TTD within 14 days from the date you informed your employer of your work injury under the provisions of the Illinois Workers Compensation Act.
Q. Can I be fired for applying for workers’ compensation?
A. Illinois law prohibits an employer from firing an injured employee for exercising his/her right to compensation under the Illinois Worker’s Compensation Act. Firing employees for exercising their rights under the Act may give rise to a separate legal action against the employer.
Q. What is a Third Party Claim?
A. A third party claim involves a work injury which may have been caused or contributed to by someone who is not a co-employee. For example, a delivery driver involved in a crash will have a workers compensation claim because the crash occurred on the job and he may have a third party claim if the crash was the fault of the other driver.
Q. How do I know if my work-related injury would make a viable worker’s compensation claim?
A. Do the smart thing. Consult with an experienced attorney who concentrates his/her practice on worker’s compensation law.
Q. Can I choose my own doctor or hospital to treat my work-related injury?
A. Yes, although certain restrictions are specified in the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. Contact a worker’s compensation attorney to make sure you know what these restrictions are. Your employer is responsible for 100% of all reasonable and necessary medical, surgical and hospital expenses.
Q. If I choose my own doctor for my work-related injury, do I have to pay?
A. No, your employer is responsible for emergency services, physicians and hospital stays, and any other reasonable and necessary medical care you are referred to.
Q. Can my employer ask me to submit to an examination by its own physician for my work-related injury?
A. Yes. This type of request is known as an “independent medical evaluation.” If your employer requests an independent medical exam, it must be done at the employer’s expense. The exam must also be performed at a reasonable time and place. The employer is responsible for payment of your time lost from employment, if applicable.
Q. Why would my employer ask me to submit to an examination by its own physician for my work-related injury?
A. Employers ask for the verification of a company approved physician because of basic distrust in many cases. Their own examining physician obtains an injury history, diagnosis, and prognosis that may or may not confirm the nature of your injury. If it is possible to minimize or even deny your workers’ compensation claim using this alternative report, your employer may want to accomplish this goal.
Q. What information should I share during an independent medical evaluation?
A. Be specific when describing your symptoms to your employer’s physician or medical evaluator. Include all the details regarding your work-related injury. Make the connection between your employment activities and how your injury was directly caused by your employment.
Q. How do I pay for an attorney to represent me while filing my workers’ compensation claim?
A. Kupets & DeCaro only charges fees when we make a recovery on your behalf. When you retain us as your legal counsel for a work-related injury, the details of how we are paid are included in the attorney/client agreement form that we ask you to sign. Be certain to read the agreement carefully. We will not be offended if you ask questions. We want you to understand clearly what you are signing.
Q. When should I hire an attorney to represent me regarding my workers’ compensation claim?
A. It is highly recommended that you retain competent legal counsel as soon as possible after your work-related injury. It is never safe to assume you will receive the benefits you deserve just because you have applied for them. A lawyer who specializes in worker’s compensation law will be the most qualified to recover the maximum benefit that you are entitled to under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act.
Rarely will an employer advise you of your rights under the Act as they may feel that it is not in their best interest to protect you in the recovery of benefits. You should be aware that their motivation and objectives are entirely different from yours.
Q. What should I expect from my workers’ compensation attorney?
A. Your Illinois lawyer should assist you with filing your claim with the Industrial Commission and ensure that you receive all of the benefits you are entitled to under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. In some cases, a petition for an immediate hearing may have to be filed to initiate the receipt of your worker’s compensation benefits in a timely manner.
Q. Are there any other benefits that I may be entitled to?
A. In addition to investigating for a third party claim, you may be entitled to unemployment compensation, social security benefits, disability benefits and group health insurance benefits. Your worker’s compensation lawyer should be able to advise you regarding whether these other benefits fit your particular circumstances.
Q. What is the statute of limitations regarding the filing of a workers’ compensation claim in Illinois?
A. Normally, the statute of limitations for filing a workers’ compensation claim is three years. There are conditions specified in the Illinois Worker’s Compensation Act so acting promptly will ensure your rights under the Act.
Q. I have been handling my own workers’ compensation case for over a year. I am getting nowhere with it. Is it too late for me to get a lawyer?
A. No. As long as all notice requirements have been met, Kupets & DeCaro will gladly step in and assist you.
Q. Is it possible for me to receive a lump-sum settlement in the event I am found to be permanently and totally disabled from my work-related injury?
A. It is possible to receive a lump-sum settlement distribution rather than scheduled payments in such cases, but it must be approved by the Illinois Industrial Commission.
Q. What happens when I settle my workers’ compensation claim?
A. You may be closing out any further claim to work-related benefits upon your acceptance of a settlement offer. Don’t do this without seeing a workers’ compensation attorney first.
Q. Will I be able to receive social security benefits as a result of my work-related injury?
A. If you are disabled from working due to a job-related injury for a period of five (5) months, and it is anticipated by your physician that your disability will continue for a total of one year or longer, you may be eligible for social security benefits.
DISCLAIMER: All answers to the hypothetical questions contained herein are provided for informational purposes only and are not intended to be construed as legal advice. Kupets & DeCaro P.C. shall not be liable for any errors or inaccuracies contained herein.