It’s been a month for getting asked questions I’d never heard in 20 plus years of being an Illinois workers’ compensation attorney.
The latest was from a nurse who got Covid working in a Chicago hospital. She unfortunately has a bad case and appears to have some long term heart damage.
The twist, in this case, is that she lives in Indiana, and apparently was told that she should apply for FMLA. Her boss either told her or implied that since she lives in Indiana, those laws apply. This is of course, totally wrong. She wanted to know if she could bring a case here.
If you work in Illinois or get hurt in Illinois or were in Illinois when hired, you can file a workers’ compensation claim here if you are hurt on the job.
The actions of employers who do this are shameful, but in this case, they are even worse. I can’t imagine who would make a health care worker with Covid feel like they have no rights. They should be bending over backwards to thank them and help them.
Where you live does not affect your rights to bring an Illinois workers’ compensation claim. Not only can she file in Illinois, but she also doesn’t have to come to IL for treatment. She can treat with doctors close to her home in a manner that is convenient for her. In fact, we once were involved in a case of a flight attendant from Australia who was hurt on a trip to the United States. She treated in her home country. That made for a challenge as far as getting medical records goes, but that’s how the law works.
I always tell people that call that they aren’t expected to know the law, so feel free to ask whatever you want. It’s also true that the employer, beyond posting notices about the law, doesn’t have to guide their workers on how the work comp system in Illinois works. That said, they shouldn’t mislead workers or make them think that they don’t have certain rights.
So the good news is that she does have a right to bring a case here. The bad news, beyond her terrible injury, is how she got jerked around. Her illness goes back to the spring and if she does go forward with a case, she should be able to get benefits from the day she stopped working. Hopefully, that will partially make up for what she’s gone through.
As an aside, the only reason she reached out was because her FMLA was about to run out. FYI, your FMLA should not impact your workers’ comp rights in any way.