Happy new year! I thought to start off the year I’d write down a lot of tips and legal advice for people who may have an Illinois workers’ compensation claim. In no particular order here are 99 things we think you should know:
1. Illinois work comp is a no fault law. You don’t have to show anyone was negligent if you get hurt on the job.
2. It’s a felony for an employer not to have workers comp insurance if they do business in Illinois and have employees.
3. You are eligible for work comp the moment you start working.
4. If you need medical treatment, 100% of your care needs to be paid for. No co-pays or out of pocket expenses.
5. You get to choose your own doctor for treatment.
6. Lawyer fees in almost every case can not exceed 20% of what is recovered for you.
7. Almost every case is worth something.
8. What your case is worth depends on how severe your injury is, the treatment you have, your wages, your recovery, your age, the future treatment you might need and many other things.
9. Once you settle, you typically lose your right to more medical care.
10. If you go to trial and win, you get medical benefits as relates to that injury for life.
11. Trials under Illinois Work Comp laws are arbitration. There is an Arbitrator but no jury.
12. Most trials take just a few hours.
13. There is no discovery in IL work comp.
14. Doctors typically testify by deposition instead of showing up to the Arbitration.
15. Attorneys should advance all costs involved in handling your case.
16. There is no fee to file a work comp case since it’s not a lawsuit.
17. In most cases, the expenses are less than $100.
18. The most common case expense is for medical record subpoenas.
19. The most costly expense is if you have to pay a doctor for their deposition time. Even then, it’s very unusual if total costs exceed $2,500.
20. It’s legal for the insurance company to conduct surveillance on you.
21. Very often insurance companies will assign a nurse case manager to monitor your case.
22. It’s illegal for these nurse managers to talk to your doctor without your permission.
23. We do not recommend that you give permission for them to talk with your doctor.
24. Some nurse case mangers will try to enter the exam room with you. Don’t let them.
25. The insurance company has a right to your medical records as relates to the work injury, but not all of your medical records from all of your life.
26. If you are unable to work due to the job injury, you are entitled to 2/3 of your average weekly wage. This is a called temporary total disability benefits or TTD.
27. There are caps on the maximum TTD you can receive per week depending on when you were hurt.
28. There are no caps on the total amount you can receive under work comp laws.
29. TTD benefits as well as any settlement are tax free.
30. You are eligible for TTD once you miss three calendar days of work. Pay starts on the 4th day.
31. If you have two jobs and can’t work either, you are typically compensated for your total loss.
32. If you have restrictions from your accident that your employer can’t accommodate, they have to pay you TTD.
33. If the company closes or you get fired and have any work restrictions, they have to pay you TTD.
34. Your attorney should be expected to call you back in a reasonable period of time. For us that means same day.
35. If you think you’ve hired the wrong attorney you have the right to switch firms at no cost.
36. No attorney can honestly tell you what your case is worth if you ask them that right after you are injured.
37. We suggest that you don’t think about settlement value until you are healthy and back to work.
38. There is no compensation for pain and suffering under Illinois work comp law.
39. You can’t sue your employer or co-workers for negligence.
40. If you are injured on the job due to negligence of someone who doesn’t work for your company, you can sue them.
41. Under IL law you have to report an injury to your employer within 45 days of it happening.
42. We highly recommend that you report a work injury right away.
43. Formally filing a case with the State must happen within three years of the accident date or two years from the last payment of compensation related to your claim.
44. To file a case you complete what is called an Application For Adjustment Of Claim.
45. When a case is filed it gets assigned to an Arbitrator in the area near where the accident took place.
46. If you are injured in IL, you can file your case here even if you work out of state.
47. From what we’ve seen, Illinois has the best work comp benefits in the country.
48. If you primarily work out of IL, but are hurt in another state, you can file your case here
49. If your contract for hire took place here, you can file here.
50. You can’t get short or long term disability while getting work comp.
51. You can get social security benefits while getting work comp.
52. In our opinion, it’s sketchy if your lawyer insists you treat with a doctor they recommend.
53. If you have a back, neck, arm, leg, hand or foot injury, you should get referred to an orthopedic doctor.
54. Injuries due to repetitive activity on the job are covered under Illinois workers’ comp laws.
55. Part time workers, temp workers, undocumented workers and any other worker have the same rights.
56. If your employer asks you to lie and say you weren’t hurt while working it’s a terrible idea that will usually come back to bite you.
57. The insurance company has a right to send you to a doctor of their choosing. This is called an independent medical examination or IME.
58. The IME doctor is often a hired gun.
59. It’s not unusual for the exam by this doctor to take less than five minutes.
60. When the IME is over they will write a report that discusses whether or not your injury is work related and what treatment you need
61. You have a right to a copy of the IME report.
62. You usually can’t get workers’ compensation if you are injured while driving to your office.
63. You can get work comp if you are injured while driving to an off site meeting or location.
64. When the case settles, the insurance company has to pay you in advance if it’s anticipated you will need a lot of future medical care.
65. At the end of your treatment, if your doctor is trying to determine what restrictions you need, they will send you for a functional capacity examination or FCE.
66. If you are injured while on assignment from a temp agency, your case is usually filed against the temp agency.
67. If at all possible, you should not resign your job without speaking to an experienced lawyer first.
68. If you do resign, you can still get medical benefits, but put your TTD at risk and your settlement could end up being much lower.
69. The longer you wait to get treatment after an injury, the harder it becomes to prove that the treatment is related to the accident.
70. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have health insurance. If you are hurt while working the bills should get paid.
71. You can file a case after you get fired, but it looks suspicious if you do and could cause the insurance company to fight you.
72. If your job causes, aggravates OR accelerates an injury then you should get benefits.
73. A pre-existing condition does not always prevent you from winning.
74. Settlements for injuries to your body are called permanent partial disability or PPD.
75. If you suffer a permanent wage loss from an injury you are entitled to wage differential benefits.
76. Wage differential benefits are 2/3 of the difference between what you would be making now in your old job and what you can now earn.
77. If you can never return to work, you get permanent disability benefits.
78. If someone is killed due to a job accident, their spouse or dependents can get death benefits.
79. Under Illinois work comp law, death benefits include medical costs, funeral expenses up to $10,000.00 and weekly compensation for up to 25 years.
80. Psychological injuries are covered if they are the result of something sudden and shocking like being robbed at gun point.
81. You usually can’t get work comp benefits for being stressed due to the day in and day out job duties.
82. If you are physically injured while working and then have a psychological problem like depression as a result, you get benefits for both the physical and mental injury.
83. Before you sign a settlement contract, we recommend that you call every medical provider you’ve seen to make sure that there are no outstanding bills.
84. Every case takes a different amount of time. How long it should last depends on how bad your injury is, when you can stop seeing the doctor and your return to work.
85. If the insurance company unreasonably denies payment of bills or TTD you can get penalties and fees against them.
86. You can receive compensation for scars related to work injuries.
87. The value of a scar injury has to do with how much you make, how big the scar is and where on your body it’s located.
88. If you are an independent contractor you have no employer so you shouldn’t get work comp benefits.
89. It’s very common for an employer to call you an independent contractor when you aren’t one.
90. If you can show that you are truly an employee (usually by showing they control your activities), you can get benefits no matter what your employer calls you.
91. The insurance company isn’t required to make a settlement offer.
92. If an offer isn’t made, your lawyer will file for an Arbitration hearing and you will get compensated that way.
93. Nobody can force you to have surgery if you don’t want to have it.
94. If you don’t participate in physical therapy or other non-invasive treatment that your doctor orders, you put your case at risk.
95. It’s common for the insurance company to ask you to give a recorded statement. You don’t have to and shouldn’t.
96. Once you hire a lawyer, the insurance company shouldn’t talk to you.
97. It’s very common for cases to get denied for no reason by the insurance company. They just hope you go away.
98. To win benefits if you are injured in a physical fight at work, you have to show the fight was about work and you weren’t the aggressor.
99. It should always be free to talk to a lawyer about your work injury. If you want to talk to us, you can fill out our contact form or call us at 312-346-5578.