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I like direct people. I’m very blunt when people ask me questions. I’ll talk to anyone about an Illinois work injury, but the best calls are when people get to the point.
One recent caller was that way and asked without even saying their name, “How does workers’ compensation work in Illinois?” I’ve had others ask that to me as well, so I thought it was worth writing about.
Under Illinois law, you can’t sue your employer for negligence if you get hurt on the job. Instead you get workers’ compensation benefits. Simply put, most cases involve the following:
- 100% payment of reasonable medical care related to your injury with a doctor of your choosing.
- Payment of 2/3 of your average weekly wage, tax free, for the time you are authorized off work by a doctor due to your injury.
- When you are all better, the ability to obtain a settlement for the permanent nature of your injury. This amount varies and is based on many factors including your medical care, wages, need for future care, ongoing problems, age and ability to work.
If you get hurt on the job, if you require it, you should get medical attention right away. When going to the doctor, you should let them know that you were hurt at work as that will affect the billing and make it so they don’t go after you for payment. Under IL law, you have 45 days from the date you are injured to report the accident to your company. That said, you should let them know about it as soon as possible.
You get to choose your own medical provider and also have the right to a second opinion. The work comp insurance company can send you to a doctor of their choosing for a one time exam. This is called an independent medical examination.
If there are disputes as to whether or not you were injured on the job or if you need medical care, that is resolved through arbitration at the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. Most arbitration hearings only last a few hours and there is no jury. It’s typical just an arbitrator, a court reporter, you, the lawyers and any witnesses.
When you are all better or as good as you are going to get, your physician will declare you to be at maximum medical improvement. When this happens and you’ve successfully returned to work, it can be time to think about making a settlement demand.
If no settlement offer comes or it’s not a fair one, you can go to arbitration for that issue as well.
If you do settle your case, it’s important to know that it typically ends your right to medical care payment for that injury. In other words, you don’t want to settle if you aren’t 100% sure you won’t need to go back to the doctor unless part of the settlement includes payment for future medical care.
A couple other tidbits:
- All workers whether full or part time are covered by Illinois work comp laws with the exception of Federal workers, some farmers and City of Chicago police and firemen.
- You become eligible the moment you start working.
- You can’t waive your right to bring a case.
- Fault doesn’t matter when it comes to work injuries.
These are the basics and there are many other benefits and issues when it comes to Illinois work comp law. And of course there is a lot of advice we have for injured workers. If you want a confidential, no cost consultation with an attorney, reach out to us at any time.