Of all the things you should know when you talk to a lawyer, one of the biggest is that any reasonable or sane attorney won’t expect you to know everything or anything about the law related to being hurt on the job in Illinois. I’m saddened by the number of people who are embarrassed that they don’t know basic work comp facts. I don’t know how to draw blood from a patient, build a building, teach kids, etc. I don’t know your job and don’t expect you to know mine.
So don’t be afraid to ask questions and expect answers. If your attorney isn’t giving guidance then what are they doing?
In the spirit of making sure everyone is educated, which increases your chances of success in your case, here are my thoughts when someone asks me what their rights are when they are hurt at work in Illinois:
- You have the right to medical care, 100% of which should be paid for by the insurance company of your employer. This means no co-pays or out of pocket expenses.
- It doesn’t matter if you don’t have your own health insurance. It’s not needed under Illinois work comp law when you are hurt at work.
- You have the right to choose your own doctor. The company can send you to a doctor of their choosing, but you don’t have to treat with them.
- You have the right to schedule your own doctor’s appointments. If the insurance company assigns a nurse case manager to your claim, they can’t choose when you see the doctor. Often they’ll try to schedule your appointment around their schedule. That shouldn’t happen.
- You have the right to see your doctor alone. These same nurse case managers will attempt to come in to your appointment or talk to your doctor about your case. That shouldn’t happen either.
- After the accident happens, if the insurance company asks you for a recorded statement, you have a right to refuse and not have your benefits affected in any way.
- You have the right to be paid for your time off work. You get paid based on calendar days missed, not work days. It’s 2/3 of your average weekly wage, tax free.
- You have the right to be paid for time off work due to a work injury for as long as your disability exists. There’s no time limit on these benefits in Illinois.
- You have the right to have your wages from a second job included in the calculation of how much your average weekly wage is as long as your employer knew about the second job.
- You should expect that payments for your time off work should take place every other week and that checks aren’t late.
- In most cases, if you are working overtime on a regular and consistent basis, you have the right to have those hours included in your wage calculation.
- If your injury is as good as it’s going to get and there is no job for you to return to, you have the right to get vocational rehabilitation (job placement) assistance from a company of your choosing at the expense of the insurance company. During this time you have the right to continued off work benefits.
- You have the right to require the company to pay your travel expenses to and from a doctor that they ask you to see for an independent medical exam.
- If they don’t provide travel expenses for that exam, you have the right to refuse to go.
- You have the right to not get fired because you filed for work comp.
- You should expect that medical bills will be paid in a timely manner and if the case is disputed it’s your right under Illinois law that a medical provider can not go after you for payment while the case is pending.
- For almost any injury, you have the right to expect a settlement when you are all better.
- Once a settlement contract is signed by all parties and approved by an Arbitrator, you have the right to expect payment within 30 days.
- You have the right to go to arbitration in your case if you aren’t happy with a settlement offer or if you want to keep your medical rights open as it relates to your injury.
- You have the right to appeal your case if you don’t like how arbitration went.
As you can see, you have a lot of rights and this isn’t a complete list and has nothing to do with the rights you should expect when working with an attorney which would be a big list as well.
If you have ANY questions and want to talk to a work comp attorney for free, fill out our contact form or call us at (312) 346-5578. We cover all of Illinois.