If your injury was serious, you probably received emergency medical attention. If you didn’t, or if you are feeling pain after the fact, your priority should be seeing your doctor. Even if you’ve put it off, make that appointment as soon as possible. Next, learn about the benefits you can get under Illinois workers’ compensation law. Your employer likely has workers’ compensation insurance, which exists to pay medical bills and lost wages for employees who get hurt on the job.

Your medical bills should be covered 100%. If you can’t work, you can get temporary total disability payments, also called TTD. These start after you’ve missed four days of work, and you can expect a check every two weeks. The amount of the check is 2/3 of your average weekly wage. If you need help knowing what your average weekly wage is, talk to an attorney. There are other benefits if your injury prevents you from ever working again or forces you to work for less pay permanently.

Don’t rely on the insurance company to fully inform you of your rights and available benefits. Ideally, you shouldn’t talk to them at all but rather have a lawyer do that for you. Experienced Illinois workers’ compensation lawyers are familiar with the tactics the insurance companies use to try and save money by denying claims and withholding benefits. For example, they might ask you to give a statement, or even ask to talk to your doctor. What they’re trying to do is find a way to argue that your injury isn’t covered – that’s it’s not a work injury or that you don’t qualify for some other reason. You might accidentally say something that hurts your case.

Other things you should know are that you have 45 days to notify your employer of a work injury, and three years from the date of injury to file a claim (only two years in some cases). Claims are filed with the Illinois workers’ compensation commission. You might receive benefits without filing a claim, but do so anyway. It could help if there’s a problem later.

Be clear with your doctor about how you’re feeling and what caused your injury. Their opinion matters a lot. Also, listen to your doctor’s warnings and don’t do things that they say you shouldn’t do. The insurance company would love to catch you shoveling snow in order to say that you don’t really have a back injury.

Getting medical attention, notifying your employer and filing a claim are the first things you should do, along with getting a free initial consultation with an experienced Illinois work injury attorney.

By Michael Helfand