If you are injured at work, you are probably overwhelmed. How can you make sure you get benefits? Should you hire an attorney? Here are seven tips to get you started.
1. Be honest
There are many steps and stages in an Illinois workers' compensation case, and you'll probably end up telling your story over and over again. Being honest about where and how you were injured will save you from inconsistencies that could hurt your case. Further, honesty with your attorney is absolutely necessary. If your lawyer isn't well informed, it will get in the way of their ability to represent your best interests.
2. Report your injury right away
As soon as you are injured at work, you should report the injury to your supervisor. Not only will notification start the benefits process, but it will satisfy the 45-day notice requirement in Illinois. If you don't notify your employer of your injury within 45 days, your benefits could be denied. The best way to report your injury to your employer is in writing.
3. See a doctor
Nothing is more important than your health. If you are hurt on the job, you may be concerned about getting in trouble. Or you may think your injury is too minor to seek medical attention. This should not stop you from seeing a doctor. In Illinois, 100% of your medical expenses are covered by workers' compensation insurance (so long as the treatment is reasonable and related to your work injury).
4. Keep a journal
A written account of your injury is a good place to start. Write down how and when you were injured, who was there, and who was notified. Keep track of your interactions with your employer and their insurance carrier regarding your benefits. Write down any changes, whether good or bad, related to your health. You never know how long your Illinois workers' compensation case will continue, so it's a good idea to have a reliable record rather than rely on memory.
5. Hire the right attorney
Find an attorney who only handles Illinois work injury cases. Hiring someone who dedicates his or her practice to representing injured workers is more likely to lead to success. Attorneys who focus on workers' compensation interact often with the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission and its decision makers. As a result, they often develop personal relationships that give them a head start.
6. Communicate with your lawyer
From the beginning, tell your lawyer the complete story. After that, keep your lawyer up to date on any changes in your case, including your health. Again, the best way to do this is write everything down. If your lawyer isn't informed, then your case could suffer. Illinois has many good work injury attorneys who will do everything they can to get you benefits, but they can't succeed unless they have all the information.
7. Don't be a tough guy
If you get hurt, get treatment. Your health should be your number one priority - don't wait around for your injury to worsen. Also, getting treatment right away will help establish that your injury happened at work (a fact insurance companies try and dispute). The more time that goes by between an injury and treatment, the easier it is for the insurance company to argue that the injury was caused outside of work.
We are workers' compensation attorneys that help people with Illinois work injuries anywhere in IL via our statewide network of attorneys. Contact us and we will answer your questions or find the right lawyer for your situation.