I recently looked back at my first Illinois workers compensation blog posts. Although I’ve been an attorney since 1997, I started blogging toward the end of 2008. A couple of thousand posts later and I still haven’t ran out of things to write about which makes me feel very lucky.
Seeing these old posts was a bit cringey. My first one was on carpal tunnel. My second one was general advice. Here’s what I wrote:
In these tough economic times, many workers are worried that if they report a work-related injury they will lose their job. We understand that concern but think that you have a bigger concern. What happens if you are hurt on the job, don’t report it, and then can’t work because of your injury. By the time you report it, it’s too late and you lose your job. Now you have no job, an injury, no pay, and bills for medical treatment.
In Illinois you are supposed to report a work-related accident within 45 days from when you knew or reasonably should have known that it might be work-related. Whether it’s talking to your doctor, your lawyer or your boss, honesty is always the best policy. If you are fired because you have filed a workers’ compensation claim in Illinois it is illegal and there are laws to protect you.
Our best advice is to look out for yourself and don’t just think short-term, but long-term. How will this injury affect you five or ten years from now, both physically and financially?
I hope that I’m a much better writer now. That said, there is a lot that is still true about what I wrote in a short amount.
1. While economic times aren’t as tough as the financial crash of 2008, people still get worried about losing their job.
2. Nothing has changed when it comes to the financial and health risk of not reporting an injury.
3. The 45-day time limit for reporting an injury is still there. More reporting is done electronically these days, but it can be done verbally or in writing.
4. It’s still very illegal to fire someone for filing a work comp case. We’ve seen numerous seven-figure cases for injured workers who were illegally fired.
5. Thinking long-term is still the way to go as well as always being honest. Too many injured Illinois workers have been burned because they lied about how they got hurt or didn’t take care to get the treatment they need. You don’t want to end up without a job, a serious injury, and nobody to pay for it.
So even with a big overhaul to Illinois work comp laws in 2011 and a few big changes since then, the basics of Illinois work injury law haven’t changed.