Helpful Information for Injured Workers
Click on the frequently asked questions below for answers to general workers comp questions.
- What is Workers Compensation?
- Does the law only apply to accidents?
- Who is eligible for Workers Compensation benefits?
- What benefits am I entitled to if I get hurt at work?
- Can I be fired or laid off if I file a Workers Compensation Case or request payment of the benefits I am entitled to?
- Who administers the Workers Compensation Act? Are cases filed at the local courthouse?
- Who pays?
The people of the State of Illinois decided many years ago that injured workers were deserving of compensation and payment of benefits when they are injured on the job. This law is administered by a state agency known as the Workers Compensation Commission.
This is a “no fault” law, meaning that negligence on the part of the employer, or the injured employee, is not relevant. All that is required is that the injury occurred as a result of employment activities. Also, even if an employee makes a mistake and causes his own injuries, he is still entitled to receive benefits.
The employee does not “sue” the employer or accuse anyone of wrongdoing or bad conduct. The form to begin a claim is titled Application for Adjustment of Claim and contains information such as date of accident, name and address, etc.
A one time, traumatic accident occurring on a specific date is not required. In fact, many work related injuries and illnesses are the result of repetitious activities that gradually arise over the course of time. It may be a condition such as carpal tunnel that results from repetitive use of the hands and arms in a factory setting. Another example might be exposure to fumes or chemicals that causes an employee to become ill over time.
Virtually every person working in the State of Illinois is eligible for benefits under the Workers Compensation Act. This includes people working for private companies, government employees and even owners of small businesses. About the only persons not covered by the law are federal employees who are subject to a federal workers compensation system. There are a few other examples of employees not covered, however the safe assumption is that the law does apply if you are injured.
The benefits you are entitled to generally fall into three categories:
- Payment of reasonable and necessary medical care with a doctor of your choosing
- Payment of a weekly disability check if you temporarily cannot work while you recover
- Payment of a settlement or award for any permanent injury you suffer, even if you make a successful return to work, or do not miss any work at all.
No. It is against the law for an employer, an insurance company, or their representatives to harass, discriminate or threaten you simply because you request the rights you are entitled to. If an employer violates the law in this way they are subject to a possible retaliatory discharge suit in circuit court where they might be at risk for payment of lost wages and punitive damages. Employers have no insurance for this type of lawsuit and thus the issue rarely arises.
The Workers Compensation Act is administered by a state agency known as the State of Illinois Workers Compensation Commission. This Commission in turn has several arbitrators that travel throughout the state to the county where the injury occurred. There is no formal courthouse appearance as seen on television and the process is known as an administrative proceeding.
The State of Illinois and the Workers Compensation Commission does not pay your benefits to you. All employers are required to have insurance to pay on their behalf or they must show that they are financially able to pay the claims directly. Many insurance companies use what is called a TPA, or third party a
dministrator to handle claims for them.
Employees are not required to pay for any part of the Workers Compensation insurance premium. It is the responsibility of the employer. Also, there is no probation or waiting period and coverage applies your first day on the job.
It is possible for an employee to conduct his own investigation and to find the insurance company. However, many people find it much easier to have their attorney do this for them. The typical insurance company is very large and compelling an insurance adjuster to speak to you by telephone can be a time consuming challenge.
This content is intended to provide general information and guidance only. You should see an attorney and obtain advice if you have questions or concerns regarding workers compensation. Most lawyers will not charge any fee for an initial consultation to review your case. Only by asking questions and obtaining answers will you obtain the rights and benefits to which you are entitled.