Although every Illinois workers compensation case is different, the following is a list of the typical process in an Illinois job injury claim:

  1. Accident: An employee has either a specific accident on the job or realizes that they have suffered an injury through repetitive trauma.
  2. Notice: Once an employee knows or reasonably should know that they were injured on the job they are generally required to notify their employer within 45 days, although it is best to do so as soon as possible. Notice to an employer can include them being aware that the worker is treating for the specific medical condition.
  3. Medical treatment: As soon as an injured worker knows that they have been injured it is highly advisable that they receive medical treatment. The employer is responsible for 100% of all reasonable and related medical care. This means that a worker is not responsible for co-payments or out of pocket expenses.
  4. Obtaining a lawyer: Although this is not required, it is highly recommended that an injured worker retain a lawyer so they can focus on their medical treatment. The lawyer will insure that the worker gets all of the benefits that they are entitled to under the law. In addition, workers’ compensation lawyers in Illinois are not paid by the hour, but rather only receive compensation if they can secure a settlement at the end of the case.
  5. Payment for lost time: If a worker is unable to perform their duties and the employer can not accommodate light duty then the injured worker is entitled to temporary total disability benefits for their time off work.
  6. Independent medical examination: At any time the employer is entitled to send the injured worker to a physician of their choice.
  7. Arbitration: If at any point the employer does not provide the medical or wage benefits that they are obligated to give to the injured worker or if case can not be resolved by negotiation, then the injured worker’s lawyer will file a petition for arbitration and an Arbitrator will resolve the dispute.
  8. Maximum medical improvement: At some point a doctor will tell an injured worker that they are as good as they are going to get and discharge them from medical care with no need for further treatment.
  9. Negotiation: Once an injured worker has finished their medical treatment, their attorney will gather the medical records, evaluate them and attempt to negotiate a settlement based on their review of the injury.
  10. Appeal: If the case is arbitrated and either side is not happy with the result they can file an appeal to a three panel board of Commissioners that will conduct a review. From there a party can appeal further to the Circuit Court, Appellate court and possibly the Illinois Supreme Court.

Please remember that every case is different and you should consult with an Illinois workers compensation lawyer if you have any questions. In addition, it is important to know that a new accident to a previously injured body part is considered a new accident which may require filing a new claim.

By Michael Helfand