I recently had an email inquiry from someone that we, fortunately, were able to help. This is what they asked:

Was wondering if I can still file for my ankle I broke at work back on October of 2022?

The answer was yes, but it still required a conversation. The time limit for bringing a workers’ compensation case in Illinois is within three years from the accident date or two years from the last payment of compensation related to the case, whichever is later.

The way to make the time limit not be an issue is to file a document called an Application For Adjustment of Claim with the Illinois Workers’ Commission. It’s free and takes only minutes. It’s the first thing an attorney should do when you hire them.

In this case, the worker who contacted me is clearly within the three-year time limit. But there’s another one he needs to worry about or his case will go nowhere.

You have to notify your employer within 45 days of when you knew or should have known you had a work-related injury. For this worker, the clock started running on the accident date because it was clearly work-related since he fell out of his truck. Nobody from work witnessed it, but he satisfied the notice requirement by calling it in from the hospital.

Most people can understand the idea of the three-year time limit. When that gets tricky is if you have a repetitive trauma injury such as back problems from excessive lifting or carpal tunnel from typing all day. The injury date can be the last day you worked since you essentially are having a new injury every day. It could also be the day you go to the doctor with the problem. And it also could be the day you connect in your head that your job is causing problems. So the sooner you tell your work about it, the better. And it’s also smart to file a case ASAP so the three-year time limit can never be an issue.

With the two years payment of compensation, that means the employer or insurance company pays medical bills or time off from work. It doesn’t always have to be classified as work comp payments either. If you work for a large company that is self-insured, their medical payments may be enough. But the scenario we often see is that an injured worker has waited more than three years to file a case and hasn’t had a payment related to the case in over two years. That seems like it’s too late, but it might not be.

If you find an unpaid bill and can get the insurance company to pay it, that will restart the two-year time limit and allow you to file a case. We once helped a worker revive a case by instructing them on how to get a small bill paid (it was less than $250). Once that happened a case was filed and they received a mid-five-figure settlement.

It’s important to note that the two years for payment of bills are based on the pay date, not the treatment date. So when contacting your medical providers, get a copy of their bill summary and see when payment was actually made. Quite often it’s six months or more after a treatment date and can really help you and give you a chance to get a settlement that you thought was too late.

We certainly get that this can be confusing. If you would like a free, confidential consultation with an attorney, you can call us at 312-346-5578 any time.