A common call for us to get goes something like this:
“I was injured at work in Chicago two years ago. I went to the ER and told them I was hurt at work. The other day I get a collection notice as it turns out my employer never paid the bill. I don’t work there any more. Is there anything I can do?”
One of the first things I advise every injured Illinois worker is to keep a journal which includes the list of EVERY medical provider you see. Since hospitals bill in a weird way it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll catch every bill out there, but it helps. I then suggest that within six months of seeing those doctors/providers that you contact them to see if any money is owed.
The reality is though that most people are trusting and when an insurance company or employer says they will take care of a bill, they assume it will happen. So what do you do when you discover unpaid medical bills?
Under Illinois law, you have three years from the date of an accident to file a case. So if three years hasn’t passed, you should get with an attorney right away so they can file an Application For Adjustment of Claim with the State. This prevents you from losing your right to get the bill paid due to waiting too long.
If three years have passed, you need to determine if any medical bills related to your case or TTD benefits were paid in the last two years. If that has happened then your time limit to file has been extended, but you should still act fast.
If all else fails and you’ve waited too long, I’d still contact the insurance company to see if they’ll pay it. Sometimes they will by mistake.
For those of you with active claims already, I highly recommend that before you settle your case that you reach out to every medical provider. Do not sign a contract until you’ve done that.
If during the case you get a bill, you need to turn it over to your lawyer or if you don’t have representation to the insurance adjuster. While it’s illegal in Illinois for a medical provider to try to collect from you or harm your credit while you have an active case, you don’t want unpaid medical bills sitting out there for a while. If the insurance company isn’t paying them they have to have a good reason. If they don’t you can file for penalties against them which will force payment and also result in a fine that will go in your pocket.
Bonus tip, there are no co-pays in work comp cases. So if you get a bill that says the insurance company paid $X and your portion is anything above $0, don’t pay it. There are no deductibles or contributions required on your part.
I hope this makes sense. If you have any questions you can call us at 888-705-1766 any time. We help with work injuries everywhere in Illinois.