Injured on the Job in Illinois: Protect Your Rights

Learn about how the workers compensation system works for those injured at work in Illinois

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Do you know what to expect if you were injured on the job in Illinois? Unless you have been through the workers' compensation system for a previous injury, chances are you don't.

Illinois has one of the most comprehensive workers' compensation acts in the country. The act is intended to provide lost wages benefits, medical benefits, and compensation for permanent injuries. These benefits typically are administered by your employer's workers' compensation insurance carrier. However, the role of the insurance carrier in the workers' compensation claim process is to not only administer benefits to the injured worker but also to minimize the amount of benefits paid to you. So how do you know if what the insurance company is telling you is correct, and how do you protect your rights?

Here are some tips on what to do immediately after being injured at work.

1. You must notify your employer immediately after your accident.

While Illinois law allows you 45 days to report your injury, we recommend reporting it as soon as possible. You can notify your employer either orally or in writing. Some employers may require you to complete an accident report form. Verify that the information on the report form is correct. NEVER sign a blank report form.

2. Seek medical treatment as soon as possible after your accident.

Make sure to give your medical provider a complete and thorough account of how your accident happened. It is important to follow your doctor's orders and keep all your scheduled appointments.

Your employer may ask you to tell your doctor that the accident DID NOT happen at work and that the employer will pay your medical bills. Don't do this. Problems arise when the employer cannot afford to pay your bills and you have to file a claim with the insurance carrier, because there would be a written record with your doctor that the accident did not happen at work. In addition, you could forfeit your claim for lost wage benefits and other types of compensation by not giving the doctor an accurate history.

3. Have a lawyer before giving a recorded statement.

Never give a recorded statement to the workers' compensation insurance carrier without having an attorney involved in the recording process to counsel you on what to say. A recorded statement is never taken for your benefit.

4. File an Application for Adjustment of Claim form with the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission.

An application must be on file within three years of the date of your accident. The filing of the application will stop the running of the Statute of Limitations and preserve your claim. NOTE: Completing an accident report form for your employer IS NOT considered filing of your claim under the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act.

5. Know your compensation.

The Illinois Workers' Compensation Act allows for compensation for your injuries in the form of a lump sum settlement or award from an arbitrator. The insurance company may tell you your claim is closed once you have returned to work. However, you may still be entitled to compensation (a settlement or award) for your injuries. It is best to consult with a workers' compensation attorney who can determine what additional compensation you are entitled to receive.

From the author: Donald W. Fohrman
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