The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act provides a system of benefits to employees who suffer injuries resulting from on-the-job accidents. This Act provides limited benefits, regardless of fault, but is an exclusive remedy for a covered employee – meaning they can’t directly sue their employer for negligence. If you have been injured at work, there are at least 5 things to consider before filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits:
Only employees are entitled to benefits under the Workers’ Compensation Act. The benefits include payment of reasonable and necessary medical bills (for injury-related medical treatment), temporary disability payments while you are off of work (with a doctor’s authorization), compensation for temporary or permanent disability, or death benefits for surviving family members. In some cases, an employee can seek compensation for the wage difference between their old and new job, or vocational rehabilitation – job training or education if the employee can no longer do their old job. Contract workers, real estate brokers, and commission sales persons are not covered under the Act.
The injury must arise out of employment. There must be a causal connection with the employment and there must be an increased risk of injury because of the employment, as compared to the general public. If there is no increased risk of injury resulting from the employment, there may not be any benefits. There may be questions of coverage if the employee is injured in the parking lot or in a common area also used by the general public, or the victim of a crime.
The accident must have occurred within the course of employment – doing the employer’s business and not some personal matter. There may be questions of coverage if the employee is at lunch or on break, traveling to and from the job, running a personal errand, or involved in recreational activities not directed by his or her employer.
Benefits may be denied unless the employer is notified of the injury, orally or in writing, within 45 days after the accident or 90 days after exposure to radiation. Benefits can also be denied by the Statute of Limitations, which requires the Petition (Application for Adjustment of Claim) to be filed with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission within 3 years after the accident or within 2 years after the last payment of any compensation.
It is extremely important for medical and legal reasons to seek medical attention as soon as possible after suffering a work-related injury. After the history of the injury is documented, the doctor’s examination, diagnostic tests, and resulting diagnoses and prognosis help to determine the nature and extent of the injury. It is equally important to follow up with recommended treatment or therapy. If there is any significant delay or gaps in treatment, the employer or insurance company are certain to dispute the causal connection between the employment activity and the injury, or the need for further treatment after a certain point.
Although the intent of the Workers’ Compensation Act was to provide financial, medical and other benefits for injured employees and their dependents, at the employer’s expense, recovering benefits under the Act is often a difficult, disputed and dilatory process.
An experienced workers’ compensation attorney such as Greg Martucci of Martucci Law, who keeps abreast of changes in the statutes, case law, and compensation formulas, is necessary to guide an injured employee through claims negotiations, or, if necessary, the Arbitration Hearing or Review.
If you have been injured at work, and wish to pursue benefits under the Workers’ Compensation Act, call Martucci Law today at 630-980-8333 to schedule your free initial consultation. Learn how we can utilize over 30 years’ experience to aggressively pursue your claim and maximize your recovery.