Under Illinois workers’ compensation law, you need to report your injury to your employer within 45 days of when you knew, or reasonably should have known, a work injury occurred. This is a very common sense law. I say that because if you are lifting a box and feel a tweak in your back, most of the time it’s nothing and will go away. It would be crazy to have to report that every time it happens.
While the law is 45 days, I’d strongly recommend you not delay more than a week in reporting anything. If it’s a serious injury, you should report it right away. If it’s something where you aren’t sure you are really hurt or the pain doesn’t show up until a day or two later, reporting then is fine.
For some workers, you understandably are more concerned about your job than anything else. That happened in a Work Comp Commission case of a police cadet. He was injured while doing burpees as part of his training with the Illinois State Police Academy. While doing burpees, he felt sharp pain in his neck. His supervisor saw him stop the exercise and shouted at him to keep going. He didn’t tell them he was hurt because he wanted to finish the academy.
Three days later he sought medical care and texted his supervisor about the injury. He had to drop out until the next session of training began.
The State of Illinois is notorious for how they treat injured workers and how difficult they are in responding to claims. They denied this cadet any benefits because he didn’t report the accident until three days later. That is not what the law requires though.
The good news is that after an Arbitration, he won benefits. His testimony was undisputed and credible. Of note is that the cadets were not to speak to instructors unless spoken to. Beyond that, his medical records clearly indicated that he was hurt at work.
In my experience, the medical records are the main factor in determining how these cases go. If you report to your doctor you were hurt while working, it lends a lot credibility to your case. It’s assumed, generally speaking, that you will tell the truth to your doctor. In the same vein, if you say you don’t know how you were hurt, it can really go against you.
While the law says you have 45 days to report an accident, the longer you wait, the more likely it is that the insurance company will contest your case. So the sooner you can report, the better. As you saw from the police cadet case, even a three day delay was enough for them to fight an injured worker.
I hope this helps. If you have any questions, you can speak with a lawyer for free by calling us at 312-346-5578.