A reader sent in a good question:
I work for a company in Chicago and was injured at work. I’m getting paid TTD benefits, but my company just announced that they are closing so there is no job for me to return to. Will I still get benefits? What happens when I don’t have a job to return to?
While a company going in to bankruptcy could affect your case, in most cases if they do that or shut down it doesn’t mean much. Most employers aren’t self insured, but instead carry workers’ compensation insurance. So even if they go out of business (which happens all the time), the insurance that they had on the day of your accident will still be in place and take care of your payments.
Where it becomes a bigger deal is when you get released from medical care, but have work restrictions and no job to return to. They would have to pay your benefits while you conduct a job search and might even have to pay for vocational rehabilitation for you. This would be true even if you would have had a job to return to had your company not closed down. It’s a great protection for injured workers.
In some cases, the value of a work comp claim can double or triple (or more) because you have restrictions and no job any more. If you were making a good wage previously and now due to your permanent restrictions can’t find a job that pays a similar amount, you may be entitled to a wage differential payment.
Even when you get a full duty release to return to work, it’s our experience that we can get higher settlements out of cases where a company has shut down. The insurance company becomes motivated to close out that account because they are no longer getting payments from them. There is also the issue that it becomes harder for them to investigate a case because they don’t have manager or HR department to call to ask questions to any more.
The biggest issue we see when companies close is that it can be hard to get wage records because there is no employee around to provide the insurance company with a wage statement. Proving wages in Illinois workers’ compensation claims is really important, especially if you are paid by the hour. It’s really important for you to keep copies of check stubs or other pay records.
To sum it up, in general it’s business as usual for your case even if you don’t have an employer to return to and in many ways it can be to your advantage. If you have any questions about this or anything else, call us at (312) 346-5578 or fill out our form to the top right of this page. It’s always free and confidential.