A reader of our blog contacted us and asked the following:
I hurt my back the other day while working in Chicago. I reported it to my boss and went to the doctor. Do I wait to hear from the insurance company or should I do something else?
That’s a good question. There is no right answer, but I do think there is a best answer, especially if you think the injury might be serious.
Insurance companies aren’t scummy in every case, but they do have a goal of limiting what they pay in every case. One way they do that is by delaying the approval of your case. So if you get hurt and need a MRI, they might say the case is under investigation. This could cause needed medical care not to happen right away. Ultimately that can hurt you.
So for me, if an injured worker has what could be a serious injury, I encourage them to file the case with the State. This is done, typically through a lawyer, by filing an Application For Adjustment Of Claim with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. What this does is get your case assigned to an Arbitrator in case there is a dispute and puts you on the offensive instead of being at the mercy of hoping an insurance adjuster does the right thing.
Getting proper medical care right away is often the difference between a minor injury not becoming a long term problem. Filing a case doesn’t guarantee anything, but it lets the insurance company know you are aware of your rights and beyond that allows you to address an unreasonable denial by them much faster.
Beyond filing, the most important thing to do is get medical treatment. You have a right to choose your own doctor and should. Don’t fall in the trap of treating with the company clinic or a doctor that the insurance company says you should go to. You want someone who is independent and will look out for your health.
If you are unable to work due to your injuries, you should start receiving temporary total disability benefits or TTD. To get this you need a note from your doctor that takes you off work or says you can work with restrictions that your employer can’t accommodate. TTD is 2/3 of your average weekly wage and is tax free. Checks should come at least every two weeks. This is another good reason for formally filing a case because it’s common for insurance companies to delay payment or “forget” to pay you.
What happens after that really depends on the case issues and how serious your injury is. If you have any questions about the Illinois work comp process, please contact us any time for a free consultation.