We get a good number of calls from Illinois nursing home employees who have suffered a work accident or injury. It makes sense, considering the physical nature of the job. In fact, nursing home employees are often considered high risk for work injuries.

For example, nursing home employees are at risk for slip and fall accidents, as floors aren’t always kept clear of water and other substances. And workers are often in a hurry due to the demands of residents and patients. The workers are moving equipment and most significantly, they are lifting and moving residents. On top of all of this, their work is unpredictable and an agitated patient can turn a routine task into something dangerous. Even the exposure to illness is greater than it is for most other types of employees.

So it’s not a surprise that we hear from nursing home employees who are wondering whether they have a workers’ compensation claim. And in fact, many of them do. This means that they get their medical care paid for, and if they can’t work, they can get temporary total disability payments, which should cover 2/3 of their lost wages.

In order for an injury to be covered, it has to “arise out of and in the course of” your employment, according to Illinois workers’ compensation law. This essentially means that it has to be caused by your job. It’s impossible to specifically define what that means because each situation is different and the particular facts matter – where you were, what you were doing, etc.

Some people ask whether it matters if you had an existing injury or condition. Usually, it does not matter and you should still be covered if your job aggravated or accelerated your existing condition. These cases might be contested, meaning that the insurance company is denying your claim and saying your injury was not work related, but a good attorney will be able to tell you whether you still have a shot. Many times the insurance company is just trying to get out of paying.

Nursing home employees also are susceptible to repetitive stress or repetitive trauma injuries. These are injuries that occur over time from using a part of your body in the same way over and over again. For example, lifting heavy objects day after day can eventually cause an injury, as can repeated bending, twisting, or reaching. These injuries usually aren’t sudden. Again, this might make your case a little more complicated, since the insurance company might see a opportunity to deny your claim, but if you have a good doctor and an experienced attorney, you should be able to prove your work injury.

Before worrying about whether you have a claim for benefits, get the medical attention that you need. Put your health first. It’s best for you and for your claim if you see a doctor when necessary. Then, you can notify your employer, file a claim and hopefully starting getting your benefits.