The law in Illinois workers’ compensation claims is that you have to report your injury to your employer within 45 days of when it happened. It’s a common sense law because we don’t want to put employees in a situation where every time they have a bump or bruise that they are filling out an accident.
Most of the people I have talked to or represented over the years will tell me a similar story as to why they didn’t report the accident on the day it happened. “I didn’t think much of it” or “This has happened to me a bunch before at work and always got better in a day or two. I figured that would happen with this injury too.”
It’s only when the injured worker realizes the problem isn’t going away and is more than a strain that they report it to their employer and get medical help. Whether it’s done in one day or 45 is not legally relevant. It’s only once you go past 45 days you could have a problem (side note, it doesn’t have to be a written report, it can be verbal and as simple as just mentioning something to a supervisor although the more detailed the better).
Maybe once a month I’ll get a call from someone who will tell me that their claim was denied because they didn’t report the accident within 24 hours of it happening. That is not the law in Illinois and it’s a problem we can easily solve.
A company called Rausch Construction had this policy, but didn’t get swayed to pay benefits once an application for adjustment of claim was filed. They seemed to feel that they could make the law be what they want it to be and not what it is.
As a result the attorney for the worker (who told his employer he was hurt six days after the accident) filed a petition for penalties and fees. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission ruled that the employer’s policy was unreasonable and there was no legal basis for a denial of benefits. As a result over $28,000.00 in penalties and fees were assessed.
Employers and insurance companies can’t screw you over for no reason. They certainly try, but if you have a lawyer in your corner who knows what they are doing, they won’t get away with it.
As I was reading about this case – it wasn’t one handled by our office – an injured worker called me and ironically had the same situation going on. What he said was that he tried being a nice guy, but realized that the insurance company wasn’t going to do the same and that he needed to protect himself. And that’s really what a competent lawyers does. They protect you. We’ll never guarantee you a result, but we do promise to look out for you in the same way we would look out for a family member or friend.