The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Program ensures that anyone who suffers a work-related injury receives free medical treatment and a partial wage while they are unable to work. In return for these benefits, the worker cannot sue their employer for damages.
The program can be complicated to navigate without legal help, and not all employers treat their workers fairly when they file a claim. A Madison County workers’ compensation lawyer could ensure you get all the benefits you are entitled to receive, and take your case to arbitration if your employer unfairly limits or denies your benefits.
Workers’ Compensation Covers All Work-Related Injuries
The workers’ compensation program covers all injuries an employee received on a job site, even if they are not specifically related to their job duties. A worker who slips on a spilled drink in the cafeteria at lunch is just as entitled to benefits as one who gets a limb caught in machinery on the shop floor.
Workers’ compensation covers injuries that develop over time. An employee with repetitive stress injuries such as carpel tunnel syndrome could qualify for benefits, as could an employee who is suffering the effects of long-term exposure to toxins in the workplace.
An injury need not occur in the workplace to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. An employee who is hurt while on a business trip could qualify for benefits. If an employee is driving for business purposes and gets into an accident, worker’s compensation should cover them. An attorney with experience representing workers could explain whether a particular injury qualifies for workers’ compensation benefits.
Preserving Your Workers’ Compensation Rights
Employees have certain obligations that affect their rights to collect benefits. Consulting with a capable workers’ attorney could help ensure that the employee does not inadvertently lose their rights under the program.
Give Timely Notice
A worker must notify an employer of an injury within 45 days. A failure to do so could result in the denial of benefits. Although it is not required, it is always a good policy to make notifications in writing and to keep a copy for your records. Employees with work-related conditions that develop over time must notify their employer as soon as they become aware of it.
See Approved Providers
Under 820 Illinois Compiled Statutes § 305/8(a), employees must seek initial treatment from a medical provider from the employer’s list of approved providers, if they have one. However, if the worker is dissatisfied with the treatment they are receiving they may see a provider of their choice. If the employer does not provide the worker with a list of approved providers, the employee may choose any provider.
Allow Access to Medical Records
The employer is entitled to access to an injured worker’s medical records. The worker must make sure that the employer knows the name and address of the health care provider currently treating the injury and sign any necessary forms giving the employer access to their treatment records.
Cooperate with Treatment
Workers must comply with the treatment plan their healthcare providers recommend. Failure to follow the treatment plan could result in denial of benefits.
File Application for Adjustment of Claim
A worker must file this notice before they can request an arbitration hearing for a denied claim. It is not necessary to file if the worker is receiving all appropriate benefits, but if the injury has persisted it is wise to file the application. If three years passes from the injury date and the worker has not filed the application, the worker loses their right to appeal a denial of benefits.
Third-Party Negligence Claims
Although employees cannot sue their employer or coworkers for personal injuries, sometimes a work injury results from a third party’s negligence. Examples of situations in which a third-party claim might be possible include:
- Work-related car accidents
- Injuries from defective products or machinery
- Off-site injuries
- Injuries resulting from the actions of an independent contractor
Third-party claims allow an injured employee to seek compensation for the portion of their wages that worker’s compensation does not cover. The worker also could collect reimbursement for some incidental expenses related to their injury as well as pain, mental suffering, and other intangible losses. A seasoned attorney could evaluate the circumstances of a worker’s injury to identify potential targets for a third-party claim.
Rely on a Local Workers’ Compensation Attorney
When you are hurt, you need to focus on recovery so you can back to work as soon as possible. Dealing with complicated workers’ compensation rules might feel like too much to handle, yet failing to follow the rules could endanger your benefits.
A Madison County workers’ compensation lawyer could guide you through the process and help ensure you preserve all your rights. You do not have to do this alone. Call today to schedule a consultation.