What is workers’ compensation?
Workers’ Compensation is a mandated insurance program that every employer in the state needs to carry. The purpose of workers’ compensation is to ensure that employees injured while working are entitled to medical treatment. In addition to covering the costs of medical treatment, the employee is also entitled to receive a portion of lost wages for time missed from work.
In Illinois, workers’ compensation is administered by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. The Commission is responsible for overseeing all disputes that arise between employers and employees over workers’ compensation benefits.
What injuries are covered by workers’ compensation?
Workers’ compensation only covers job-related injuries, such as:
- Injury caused by the repetitive use of a body part at work.
- Stroke caused by work.
- Heart attack caused by work.
- Other physical problems caused by work.
- Pre-existing conditions made worse by work.
Some injuries not covered are:
- Injuries at recreational events, like company picnics or softball games, unless your employer orders you to go.
- Accidents during a drug or alcohol rehab program.
Q. Can I collect workers compensation benefits if the accident was my fault?
Yes. Workers’ compensation is not a fault-based system. As long as you were involved in performing your work while you were injured, it doesn’t matter if the accident was caused by you, a co-worker, or your employer.
Q. What should I do first if I am injured at work?
Immediately report the accident to your employer. Seek medical treatment from an employer authorized doctor.
Q. Do I have to pay an Attorney up front to represent me?
No. A Workers’ Compensation Attorney’s Fee is based upon work done on behalf of the injured worker and is set by a Judge of Workers’ Compensation. The Attorney Fee is no greater than 20% of the amount recovered on behalf of the injured worker. In most cases, the Workers’ Compensation Insurance carrier contributes towards the payment of the Attorney Fee thus the overall fee paid by the injured worker is less than 20% of the award or settlement.
Q. How Long Do I Have to File for Workers’ Compensation in Illinois?
In Illinois, there are two deadlines that injured workers need to meet in order to maintain their workers’ compensation benefits eligibility.
- Deadline to Report Your Injury
- When you get injured at work, you must report your injury to your employer within 45 days of the accident. You should report your injury in writing, and your employer may have a form for you to complete under company policy. Your supervisor or human resources (HR) liaison should be able to help you, and if you face any resistance with regard to reporting your injury you should speak with an attorney promptly.
- Deadline to File a Claim for Benefits
- Reporting your injury or illness to your employer is not the same thing as filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. Once you report your injury or illness, you must separately file a claim for benefits through the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. Under Illinois law, you have three years from the date of the accident to file your claim for benefits.
Q. Can undocumented immigrants file a workers’ compensation claim in Illinois?
Undocumented immigrants can report a work-related injury to receive medical treatment, as well as, if their case requires, receive a weekly paycheck to cover their personal expenses.
This is possible because the right to sue is not based on citizenship. The 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution states that no state “denies any person within its jurisdiction equal protection of the laws.”
This paragraph includes people who may be living and working in the country without proper documentation.
If you are an undocumented immigrant and you get injured in a work-related accident, you have the same right as any U.S. citizen to file a claim to obtain workers’ compensation benefits. Filing a workers’ compensation claim will not affect your immigration status.
Q. Can my employer fire me for filing a workers’ compensation claim?
One reason many people avoid filing claims for workers’ compensation is the fear they will lose their jobs.
It is illegal retaliation for your employer to terminate your employment for reporting a workplace injury or filing a workers’ compensation claim. It is rare for an employer to make the mistake of telling an employee that they are being fired due to a workers’ compensation claim, because most employers are aware that this would likely lead to an employment discrimination lawsuit.
Q. How long can I receive workers’ compensation benefits in Illinois?
The time limit varies depending on the severity of your injury. In most cases, your benefits cannot be stopped unless you return to work, sign an agreement suspending your benefits, or lose a case before a Workers’ Compensation Judge. Every case is unique. That’s why it’s critical you have a lawyer you can trust on your side to help you navigate your way through the legal process.
Q. Why should I hire a workers’ compensation attorney in Illinois?
Having an experienced Illinois workers’ compensation lawyer on your side can make all the difference. A lawyer can be with you every step of the way, from filing a Claim Petition to negotiating a settlement. Our aggressive attorneys at The Romaker Law Firm have years of experience handling all types of complicated workers’ comp cases. We know what evidence to look for and we know how to get results. Put your trust in a law firm that puts your best interests first. Contact The Romaker Law Firm. Call (877) 316-5092 and schedule a free consultation today.