If you are hurt while at work, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation. In Illinois, most injuries that occur while on the job allow an individual to workers’ compensation that includes payment for medical bills and lost wages. The types of injuries that are covered may be anything from one time back or neck injury to carpal tunnel from many years of typing. Occupational illnesses are covered as well. These include diseases caused by inhaling fumes or being exposed to harmful chemicals.
One of the first things you will do is file a claim with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, which oversees and hears the cases of injured workers. The hearing site for Will County is the Will County Courthouse, located at 14 W. Jefferson in Joliet, Illinois. If you are injured out of state but work in Will County, your case will also be heard here.
In Illinois, another of the first things you must do is to notify your employer within 45 days of your injury. You must also be mindful of the statute of limitations, which is three years from the date of your injury. This means you must file a claim with the Commission within that time.
Keep in mind that you are not filing a lawsuit when you file a workers’ compensation claim. Instead, it stands in place of a lawsuit. So, regardless of whose fault it is that you were injured, you can still file a claim. That means if you were hurt because you were careless, you can still file a claim and get benefits. However, it also means if you were hurt because your employer was careless, then you cannot file a lawsuit (That is the general rule, though there are some exceptions).
The three most important types of workers compensation benefits available to injured workers in Illinois are:
o Medical. This includes all of your medical bills. You should not have to pay anything out of pocket. As long as the expenses are reasonable and, of course, related to your work injury, then your medical bills should be covered entirely.
o Temporary Total Disability. You are entitled to receive 2/3 of your average weekly wage during the time you are unable to work while you recover from your injury. Also, if you can work but your employer is unable to accommodate your work restrictions, you can qualify for temporary total disability.
o Permanent Partial Disability. Your doctor will determine if your injury is permanent. If that is the case and you can only return to a lesser paying job, you may get compensation for the difference.
In some states, you can’t choose the doctor who treats you for your work injury, but in Illinois, you can. Still, your employer’s insurance company may want you to be examined once by a different, independent doctor, which is also called an Independent Medical Exam or IME.
While a workers’ compensation claim is not a lawsuit, it is still strongly recommended that you hire an attorney because you will be dealing mostly with your employer’s insurance carrier, not your employer. The insurance company professionals are in the business of negotiating these types of cases, and an experienced workers’ compensation attorney will negotiate for you and make sure you get the best settlement possible.
Workers’ compensation attorneys work on a contingency basis sometimes says Dave from Hinden Law Firm. This means you only pay if you get benefits. If you don’t get benefits, you don’t have to pay the attorney. The fee is usually 20% of what you recover, and in Illinois, there are no limits on what you can recover for a work injury.