Illinois workers’ compensation law determines who is covered and who is not. If covered, you are entitled to benefits, including payment of some of your lost wages (if any) and all reasonable and related medical bills. Many injured workers also end up with a settlement amount at the end of their claim, once their treatment is complete. So how do you know if you’re covered? Here are the basics.

 Are you an employee?

Only employees are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits in Illinois. If you are an independent contractor, you are not covered. This seems like a straightforward rule, but the sometimes complex part is knowing whether you are, in fact, an employee. We’ve seen many cases where a worker was mislabeled. If you are told you are an independent contractor, verify that this is true. Talk to an attorney. The difference is important when it comes to a work injury.

 Are you an ILLINOIS employee?

If you live and work in Illinois, then there isn’t much of an issue here, but there are cases where an employee might not be sure if they should file their claim in Illinois or in another state. Illinois is considered a worker-friendly state in this area of law, so if you can file here, it might be your best bet. You might be covered under Illinois workers’ compensation if you were hired here or your employer was based here, even if you don’t regularly work here and weren’t injured here. On the flip side, if you were injured here, but don’t usually work here, you are covered. If your employment is connected to Illinois in any way, you might be able to file your work injury claim here.

 Did your accident happen in the course of your employment?

Many, but not all, work injuries are covered. Your injury must happen while you are doing something for your employer, even if it’s not your regular duties and even if it was off-site. If you are at work, but doing something completely unrelated to your job, an injury might not be covered. The line isn’t always clear and successfully getting benefits can come down to your attorney’s skill and experience.

 Did you notify your employer within 45 days?

Illinois workers’ compensation law requires you to notify your employer of your work injury within 45 days of the injury, in order to be eligible for benefits. If you fail to do this, your benefits can be denied. However, always check with an attorney before accepting a denied claim as the final answer. Your attorney may be able to establish that notice was given.

 Did you file a claim within three years?

The statute of limitations, or deadline, in an Illinois workers’ compensation case is three years from the date of injury. If you received benefits after the injury, then your deadline is two years from the last payment of benefits. If you miss these deadlines, your claim can be barred forever. In a work injury case, sooner is always better when it comes to filing a claim and seeking benefits. The longer you wait, the easier it can be for the insurance company to find a way to deny your claim.

 One other thing to keep in mind: Fault doesn’t matter in a workers’ compensation case. If you got hurt at work because you were careless, you can still get benefits. Don’t assume you don’t have a claim.