Chicago Workers Comp Lawyer
Every day that you head to work, you expect to be able to do your job in a safe environment even if there are some everyday hazards. In construction, for example, you are consistently surrounded by power tools, equipment, and sizable vehicles. These could all lead to construction accidents. However, you, your coworkers, and your supervisors actively work together to reduce the chance of these hazards turning into a serious accident.
Except one day something went wrong. Someone did not do their job properly, a crucial piece of equipment broke, or a freak accident occurred that left you seriously injured. Now you are unexpectedly out of work and need your medical and everyday bills taken care of. Following a work-related accident like this, you should file a workers’ compensation claim.
However, with no prior experience with the workers’ compensation process, you may not know where to start. Our Chicago workers’ compensation lawyers can help file your claim and pursue compensation. To learn more about your rights as an employee in Illinois, contact Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. today and set up a free consultation at (312) 236-2900.
What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is an insurance system for Illinois’ workers. It ensures that you receive medical care along with medical benefits and disability benefits as a result of an injury at work. It also provides death benefits to families who lose loved ones in work-related accidents.
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, which means you do not have to prove anyone was negligent or responsible for your injury or condition. You also do not have to worry about keeping your job or being barred from benefits if you were somehow responsible for an accident. A workers’ compensation claim concerns itself with why the injury or condition occurred and if the injury was legitimately work related.
When an Illinois employer is required to offer workers’ compensation insurance to its employees, they either purchase a policy or get approval to be self-insured. Whether or not your employer has an insurer or is self-insured does not change your eligibility for workers’ compensation. However, this difference can influence the procedures for a claim and the doctors you are required to see.
What Are Work-Related Injuries?
Injuries and medical conditions are considered work related when they arise from your employment or occur during the course of your employment. When an injury or medical condition arises from your employment, there is a direct causal relationship between your job duties, the risks associated with them, and the injury or condition. You would not have your current diagnosis if it were not for your job.
When an injury or condition occurs during the course of employment, it happens while you are actively working, at a work location, traveling for work, or within other circumstances required by your job.
While any number of injuries can occur while you work, there are some common injuries Illinois workers suffer, including:
- Slip, trips, and falls
- Being hit by a moving object
- Vehicle accidents
- Repetitive motion conditions
- Weather-related injuries like heat stroke
- Workplace violence
When You Are Covered by Illinois Workers’ Compensation
The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act requires most employers, even those with only one employee, to purchase workers’ compensation insurance. There are only a few exceptions to this rule. Almost all employees who are hired in Illinois are covered by workers’ compensation immediately upon their first day of work. There is no waiting period prior to workers’ compensation insurance kicking in. Whether you are injured on your first day of work or your 100th day, you are likely covered.
If you are unsure of whether your employer has workers’ compensation insurance, you can search through the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission or speak with an experienced Chicago workers’ compensation lawyer.
Types of Workers’ Compensation Benefits
The workers’ compensation benefits you are entitled to depend on the approval of your claim as well as the type and extent of your injury or condition. Potential compensation includes:
- Medical care for your injury or condition, including emergency care and on-going treatment
- Temporary total disability benefits for when you are completely unable to work for a period of time
- Temporary partial disability benefits for when you are only able to perform a less strenuous amount of work or fewer hours due to your injury
- Permanent total disability benefits if you are unable to work because of the injury or condition
- Permanent partial disability if you have a permanent physical or psychological restriction or disfigurement, yet you can work some amount
- Vocational rehabilitation for when you are capable of working yet need training to obtain new employment
- Death benefits for family members of workers killed in work-related accidents
The Workers’ Compensation Process
Workers’ compensation benefits are not automatically sent to you after a work-related injury or diagnosis with a work-related medical condition. You are responsible for filing a formal workers’ compensation claim, cooperating with your employer and insurer, and fighting for your right to compensation.
The workers’ compensation process breaks down as:
- You are injured at work or receive a diagnosis of a medical condition caused by your job.
- You notify a member of management at work of your injury or condition, either orally or in writing within 45 days of the accident or diagnosis.
- Your employer provides you with a claim form.
- You fill out the form and attach any necessary paperwork and medical records pertaining to the injury or condition. You then return it to your employer or if directed, to an insurer.
- Your claim is approved or denied.
- If your claim is approved, your medical expenses should be covered by your insurer and you may begin to receive temporary or permanent total or partial disability payments.
- If your claim is denied, you should receive a written explanation as to why.
- If your claim is denied, or your employer denies you certain benefits you believe you are entitled to, you should file an Application for Adjustment of Claim with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC).
- The IWCC will schedule a hearing to decide whether you have a valid claim and the appropriate benefits for your situation.
Under the Illinois workers’ compensation system, you are not entitled to sue your employer when you receive benefits or your claim was lawfully denied. However, there are times when a work-related injury is caused by a person who does not work with you. When an individual from outside of your work caused your current situation because of their negligence, you may have the right to bring a personal injury claim against them.
During third-party lawsuits, you will have to prove negligence. This means you should gather evidence of how the other individual should have behaved and how instead, they acted carelessly, recklessly, or intentionally harmful. In some situations, negligence may be obvious. However, it is often subtle and requires careful investigation. An experienced Chicago workers’ compensation attorney can explain the process of a personal injury claim in-depth and stand by your side throughout the legal process.
You may wonder why you would need to file a personal injury claim if you have workers’ compensation. While workers’ compensation benefits are essential to recovering from an injury, these benefits are unlikely to cover all of your expenses, lost wages, or reduced earning potential. By moving forward with a personal injury insurance claim or lawsuit, you could become fully compensated for your physical, psychological, and financial injuries.
How a Chicago Workers’ Comp Lawyer Can Help
During a workers’ compensation claim, there are precise deadlines and regulations you must adhere to in order to have your injury or medical condition covered and to receive necessary benefits.
A workers’ compensation attorney can help you every step along the way, including:
- Filing your original claim and increasing the chance of its immediate approval
- Helping you navigate the insurer’s process of investigating your claim
- Negotiating a settlement with your employer related to an accident
- Representing you in an appeal if your claim is denied, whether in arbitration, before the IWCC, or in court
- Filing a personal injury claim against a third party
While you may hope that your workers’ compensation claim process goes smoothly after you are hurt because of work, this is not always the case. Your initial claim may be denied for a number of reasons, such as not providing enough information or filing your claim a day late. By working with a personal injury lawyer, you can avoid making common, yet preventable errors. If the option for a settlement arises, an attorney can negotiate on your behalf to get you as much compensation as possible for your injuries.
Additionally, an experienced attorney knows the ins and outs of Illinois workers’ compensation, which means your rights can always be protected and your employer or insurer will not be able to take advantage of you.
Contact an Illinois Workers’ Comp Lawyer Today
If you were hurt during a workplace accident or if you were recently diagnosed with a medical condition you developed due to your job, call the workers’ compensation attorneys at Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. today at (312) 236-2900. Our attorneys have years of experience helping individuals recover compensation for work-related accidents, through both workers’ compensation claims and personal injury suits.
Contact us to schedule a free consultation today.