Illinois workers’ compensation law entitles you to payments for a portion of your lost wages if you can’t work because of a job-related injury. Specifically, the law says that an injured worker should receive 2/3 of his or her pay until they can return to work. This benefit is called Temporary Total Disability (TTD).

The amount of TTD you get is calculated using your average weekly wage, which is the average amount you earned per week over the 52 weeks prior to your injury. You essentially add up those 52 weeks of pay, divide by 52, and then multiply by 66 2/3%. It’s fairly straightforward if you earn the same amount at each paycheck.

Most employers in Illinois have workers’ compensation insurance, which means that the insurance company pays your benefits, including your TTD checks. They calculate your average weekly wage, and if your situation is less than straightforward, it’s important to make sure it’s calculated correctly. If your pay varies, if you work hourly and get overtime, or if you get bonuses as part of your compensation, you should work with an experienced work injury attorney to make sure that all appropriate income is included.

The insurance company doesn’t want to pay you more than it has to under the law, so it’s in their best interest to err on the side of excluding things from your wage calculation. Obviously, that is not in your best interest. The more that you can include, the more you will receive in benefits. You want to be sure that your benefits payments accurately reflect your income.

Suffering a second injury while recovering from a work accident

Sounds like a string of bad luck, but it happens. Considering that your health is not 100% to begin with, you are arguably more susceptible to a second injury. When something like this happens, the question becomes whether workers’ compensation will continue to cover you.

Under Illinois workers’ compensation law, your benefits should continue if you can prove some sort of link between the new injury and your original work injury. There has to be a connection. If the second injury happens at work, that is clearly covered. If it’s directly caused by your first injury, like you get an infection or other side effect from surgery for your work injury, then that should be covered, as well.

The more questionable situation is when the incident is completely unrelated to work. Let’s say you suffered a back injury at work. You’ve been getting your medical bills covered, and you are unable to work and receiving benefits for that, as well. Your recovery is progressing well, but then you get in a car accident on your way to the grocery store one day. You suffer further back injuries that require surgery and a longer recovery.

There is a good argument that your benefits should continue in this situation. You can show that the severity of your car accident injury is a result of your already injured back. If you had been in perfect health, the injuries would have been less severe. So the fact that you had a work injury to begin with is one reason for your increased injury. To put it another way, it’s not a separate injury but more of a continuation of the first injury.

This example was made easier by the fact that the injury was to the same part of the body. Whether you’ll continue to get benefits depends on the specific injuries – both the original one and the secondary one – and how they are related, so it really varies from case to case. A key factor is your doctor’s opinion. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can fight for your benefits even if the insurance company has cut you off.

We are workers’ compensation attorneys who 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.

By Michael Helfand