An injured worker called our office after a serious injury to her neck. She was freaking out a bit because her employer hadn’t turned in the accident to their insurance carrier. She was also worried because the employer doesn’t offer short or long term disability (“STD”, “LTD”) and she doesn’t have medical insurance. So basically in her mind she has a life altering injury with no income coming in and no way to pay for medical care.
It sounds like a nightmare and it would be if she wasn’t hurt at work. Nobody wants to get injured, but if it does happen to you, having it be work related is a silver lining.
What I did for this worker is explain how the Illinois work comp system works and why there being no long or short term disability benefits is irrelevant.
When you are hurt on the job and can’t work, your employer is obligated to pay you 2/3 of your average weekly wage, tax free. In a case like this where this isn’t happening because the employer won’t report it to the insurance company, there is a simple solution. By formally filing the case with the State via an Application For Adjustment of Claim, it forces the employer to report it. If they don’t they’d lose their insurance and be personally responsible.
When we get involved in these situations, we not only file the case right away, but we look up who the insurance company is at the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. By doing that we can call them and speed up the process Often they are actually happy to hear from us because their client doesn’t give the information they need.
But even if you are being delayed, applying for long or short term disability benefits doesn’t make sense if your job offers it. That’s because one of the questions on the application for those benefits is “Was your injury work related?” If you answer honestly and say yes, you won’t get LTD or STD. If you lie, you will blow up your work comp case and you might not get LTD or STD benefits anyway once they see your medical records and discover you were hurt at work.
So what you should do is just tell the truth. If it’s a work related injury those are the best benefits you can get. All of your medical care gets paid for, your time off work is compensated, there is no cap on benefits and you get a settlement when you are all better.
The bottom line is that we understand people are beyond anxious when they have no money coming in. A short term solution isn’t the way to go. Get with someone who knows the IL work comp system and protect yourself. Your employer not offering these other benefits or you not having health insurance should not be a factor.
And as always, if you want a free consultation with an honest, experienced and blunt attorney, call us any time. We help everywhere in Illinois via our state wide network of like minded lawyers.