Many people feel overwhelmed after a work injury, especially if it affects their ability to do their job. One thing you should be thinking about is workers’ compensation, which applies exclusively to injured employees. Here are some concrete steps you should take to gain some control over the situation.
- Tell your boss or supervisor. Illinois law requires you to notify your employer of your work injury in order to be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Also, notifying your employer often gets the ball rolling. They tell their insurance company, and you start getting benefits (payment of medical bills and lost wages).
- File a formal claim, even if benefits have started already. Telling your employer is not a formal claim, even though it can get your benefits started. The official form is called an Application for Adjustment of Claim. You can file this with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. Taking care of this early on can help you later if there is a problem with your benefits or eligibility and you need to request a hearing.
- Take your medical care seriously. Listen to your doctor. Not only is this simple common sense, but going against your doctor’s recommendations can hurt your case. The insurance company can cut off your benefits. Sometimes they use surveillance to catch people doing physical activity that they shouldn’t be doing and use that to try and end a claim.
- Don’t talk to the insurance company. The insurance company doesn’t want to provide any more benefits than they have to. In fact, they work hard to find ways to deny benefits when they can. One way they do this is to get a statement from you that works in their favor. You don’t have to talk to them. Your attorney should do that for you.
- Know when to talk to an attorney. If your injury is serious (prevents you from working) or permanent, or if your benefits are denied or suddenly cut off, then it’s time to talk to a lawyer. Find someone who focuses on helping injured workers and get a free consultation. They can request a hearing in front of an arbitrator and argue for your benefits. They also can negotiate with the insurance company more effectively because they know how the insurance company operates.
If you’re like most employees, you probably haven’t dealt with workers’ compensation before. These tips will help you get started. You don’t want to miss out on benefits that you’re entitled to by law, and you certainly don’t want the insurance company to take advantage of you.