In the most serious of Illinois work related accidents, you are so injured that you can never return to your old job. This means that you have some type of permanent restriction, usually one that limits the amount of weight you can lift on the job.
If your highest level of education is high school and you’ve done nothing but heavy labor jobs for 20 years, you might be nervous that you’ll never get back to earning a good living. Fortunately Illinois workers’ compensation laws don’t allow employees to be discarded if they are hurt like they do in some other states. If your injury is that serious and you can’t find a good job within your restrictions, you can be retrained for a new one, even if that means being sent to college
The process is called vocational rehabilitation. There are professionals whose job it is to meet with people who have been forced out of their chosen jobs and help them come up with a reasonable plan that maximizes their earning potential. Just as you can and should choose your own doctor if you are hurt at work, you can/should choose your own vocational counselor. Having a good attorney really pays off in this situation as many of these people make a living by doing this work for insurance companies.
They will meet with you, learn about your past, determine your potential and interests and come up with a plan to either find a good job or get you retrained for a new one. Sometimes that means a quick job search, but other times it’s a longer process and it gets determined that going back to school is the best plan for your long term success.
This happened recently in a case where a machine operator had a major hand injury that left her with permanent restrictions. She had an associates degree and a vocational counselor recommended that she go for a bachelor’s degree. She testified at trail that she wanted to go in to the social service field.
The Arbitrator found that because she had a reduction in earning power due to her serious injury and that getting her degree would increase her earning power, her college plan was reasonable and ordered the insurance company to pay for it.
While this isn’t the most common scenario in an Illinois work injury, it happens a lot. As I’m sure you know, college can be expensive, but if it’s the best chance to get you back to a good living you are entitled to payment of it just as you are entitled to an expensive surgery that could heal your back, leg, etc.
Aside from the restrictions, the biggest reasons this machine operator won is that her plan was reasonable, she was motivated and her voc rehab counselor thought it would be a success.
If you have an injury serious enough to require permanent restrictions, it would be a huge mistake to not have an attorney guiding you. Call or email us any time for a free, confidential consultation.