I’m a lawyer who will talk to anyone for free and in confidence about Illinois work injuries. I get a lot of great questions every day and am happy to answer them. A lot of questions are similar but asked in a different way. But about once a week I get a unique question that I haven’t heard before. A recent one I’ve never been asked before was odd because it was so basic but I’d never even thought about it.
One thing I try to do as a lawyer is to remember that you don’t deal with workers compensation law every day. Lawyers shouldn’t expect you to know anything, and while we shouldn’t treat you like an idiot, we also should not assume that basics to us are things you are aware of. I think I’m pretty good at that, but in this case, my caller had a question I’d never thought of and just assumed would be clear. I was wrong.
The question was, “Can you get workers compensation benefits in Illinois if you don’t miss any time from work due to your injury?”
Under Illinois law, when you get hurt at work, you get two rights immediately. The first is medical care, typically at a doctor of your choice, 100% of which is paid for by the employer or their insurance company. The second is the payment of 2/3 of your weekly wage, tax-free.
So the caller was hurt and while she has a fairly serious arm injury, she has a fairly sedentary job. So while she can’t do any lifting, her job doesn’t require any so she can continue to work. Someone told her that she wasn’t off of work and didn’t need to be, it’s not a work comp case.
That is not true at all. You don’t have to use every work comp benefit to have a case. In this situation, she knew she could get medical care, but was under the impression that she couldn’t get a settlement because she didn’t miss any time. That is not the case either.
While the time you missed from work might play a role in what your settlement is worth, it’s just a factor and not missing any work doesn’t mean you weren’t injured and it doesn’t mean that your injury won’t impact you in the future. And because every nonsuperficial injury will play some role in your future health, pretty much every case has some settlement value in Illinois. And certainly, an injury that requires more than just one doctor’s visit has settlement value. What that amount is depends on the treatment you received, your wages, what your work future looks like, your age, etc.
If you are hurt at work, it’s great news if you don’t have to miss any time from work or even just limited time. But if someone tells you that means you don’t have a case, they don’t know what they are talking about. This all goes back to the best advice we can give you is to not take legal advice from someone who isn’t a lawyer. If you want to speak with one of our attorneys for free, you can contact us anytime at 312-346-5578.