We talk to a lot of people every day, and every day we’re surprised at the myths that are going around. Here are some things we hear a lot, and here’s what we’ll tell you if you call us.

  1. Myth: If you file a claim, you can lose your job. Illinois law makes it illegal for an employer to retaliate against an injured employee because they chose to file a claim for workers’ compensation. Legally, they can’t fire you. And the reality is, if you don’t file for benefits, you’re potentially missing out on payment of all medical bills plus payment for back pay and future lost pay, as well.
  2. Myth: You have no chance when up against a big insurance company. Don’t let anyone scare you into thinking this is true. The insurance companies are big, and they have lots of lawyers, but they also handle tons of claims. If you have a legitimate injury, a lawyer who is known for fighting for his or her clients and has the experience to know how the system works, the size of the insurance company should be a non-issue.
  3. Myth: If an injury is your fault, you’re out of luck. In Illinois workers’ compensation benefits are provided regardless of fault. If you got hurt because of something careless you did at work, you’re still eligible. If your employer tells you this or other things to convince you that you’re not going to get workers’ compensation, don’t take their word for it.
  4. Myth: If you’re an independent contractor, you don’t get workers’ compensation. Again, this is something employers often do to prevent workers’ compensation claims. If you are truly an independent contractor, then you are not eligible for benefits. However, many employees are mislabeled. And it’s not your employer’s label that counts. If there is a dispute, the law looks at how much control your employer has over you when determining whether you are an employee or an independent contractor. We’ve talked to plenty of people who ended up being an employee, legally speaking, and were able to get benefits despite what they were told.
  5. Myth: You can’t afford an attorney. No Illinois workers’ compensation attorney should charge you anything upfront. At the end of your case, if you get a settlement, they will be paid from that. The law limits their fee to 20%. If your attorney is asking you to pay any costs – for medical records, copies, depositions, travel – then you might need to find someone with better resources to handle cases. Everyone can afford a work injury attorney.

 If you have questions about these or other things you’ve heard, let us know.

By Michael Helfand