Some injured workers hesitate to tell their employers about their job injuries; others willingly tell their employer but are uncomfortable asking about workers’ compensation. We understand that it might be an awkward conversation, but we think this comes from some misunderstandings about the way workers’ compensation works and why it’s there in the first place.

Workers’ compensation does not come out of your employer’s pocket. Most employers are required by law in Illinois to carry workers’ compensation insurance for all of their employees. This means that their insurance company pays for any work injuries. When you file a claim to collect benefits, you are more involved with the insurance company than with your employer. If you hire an attorney to help you, he or she will be dealing directly with the insurance company, not your employer.

It’s also helpful to understand why workers’ compensation even exists. The system is meant to help both sides. Employers benefit from workers’ compensation because it protects them from lawsuits. Employees are not allowed to sue their employer for a work injury, and in return, they get to file for workers’ compensation benefits. It’s how the system works. There’s some give and take, and it’s fairly routine.

The law actually requires you to notify your employer in order to get benefits. If you don’t give notice within 45 days of your injury, then the insurance company can try to deny your benefits. If your employer asks you not to report your injury as a work injury, they’re asking you to lie. Don’t take that risk. If you lie to your doctor about how you got hurt, and it goes through your group health insurance rather than your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance, you could be guilty of insurance fraud.

Illinois is considered a worker-friendly state when it comes to work injuries. Employees are entitled to payment for all of their medical bills. There shouldn’t be any out-of-pocket expenses. Also, if you can’t work, you can collect 2/3 of your average weekly wage until you can return to your job. Don’t risk losing these benefits. Notify your employer of your injury, make sure you see your doctor and tell him or her exactly what happened, and get a free consultation with an Illinois workers’ compensation attorney who can answer your questions.