Illinois law requires almost every employer to secure workers’ compensation coverage that covers its employees in case they fall ill or get hurt on the job. Employers face daily fines for non-compliance. Thus, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that 91% of our state’s employees are entitled to protections this coverage offers, according to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IL WCC). So, what steps should Illinois employees take to apply for worker’s compensation if they require it? We’ll share those details below.
Determining if Your Employer Has Illinois Workers’ Comp Coverage
Many individuals follow steps to prevent workplace injuries but still find themselves hurt. One of the first steps you need to take before considering filing a workers’ compensation claim is to determine if state law actually requires your employer to have this coverage and, if so, whether they indeed ever purchased it as they should have.
Generally, any Illinois employer with at least one employee, no matter whether they’re part-time or full-time, must secure workers’ compensation coverage. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act describes the very few exceptions that exist to this rule, such as in the case of some sole proprietors, agricultural workers, corporate board members, and independent contractors. So, you can generally feel confident in knowing that an employer you work for is likely required to have this coverage that you’re entitled to unless your employment status falls into one of the categories above.
Notifying Your Employer of Your Injury, Incident, or Illness
One of the best ways to determine if your employer has workers’ comp coverage is by notifying your employer of your injury incident. When you do this, your supervisor, the owner, or the company’s human resources representative should go ahead and provide you with all necessary instructions and documentation needed to move forward with getting necessary medical care and recovering lost wages if warranted.
You can also visit the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission WC Coverage Verification tool to verify if your employer has this insurance independently.
However, sometimes, when an injury accident or the onset of an illness occurs, it’s not possible or convenient for you to notify your employer of what happened right away. Fortunately, Illinois law gives you 45 days to let your employer know what happened.
So, if you are left unconscious from the injury incident or otherwise not well enough to report it right away, the best practice is to personally (or encourage others to) report what happened, causing your injury or illness right away. Doing so in writing so there’s a record that such notification happened is best.
Seeking Immediate Medical Attention
Another critical step you should take after suffering a workplace injury or experiencing the onset of an occupational illness in Illinois is to seek medical attention.
In Illinois, there is a two-doctor rule. In our state, you have the option of seeing any doctor you want; however, they must be in your employer’s Preferred Provider Program (PPP) if they have one. Otherwise, you can visit any medical provider of your choosing. And, if you’re unhappy with the first treating provider, you can switch to a second one as you prefer.
Be sure to follow the treatment plan outlined by your treating physician or other medical provider to completion.
What To Expect After Notifying an Employer of Your Illness or Injury
When you notify your employer of your predicament, whether before or after you receive medical treatment, they should be proactive in providing you with provider information and instructing you how to open a claim. However, just because employers have workers’ comp coverage doesn’t mean they understand their responsibilities or that they’re willing to be cooperative when you report you’re unwell. In the case of the latter, reports and subsequent payouts could increase their insurance premiums, which could affect their cost of doing business.
So, be prepared for a lack of cooperation on your employer’s part. And, if you’re on the receiving end of such treatment, know you do have options in terms of steps you can take to receive the Illinois workers’ comp benefits you’re entitled to.
Filing Your Claim With the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission
Once you’re under a doctor’s care and have reported the injury, incident, or illness to your employer, it’s finally time to file your workers’ compensation claim (if you haven’t gotten this process underway yet). This may especially be necessary if your employer disputes your injuries, saying that they’re not work-related.
Please note that in Illinois, our state requires employers to respond to workplace injury claims requiring you to miss work for three or more days within 14 days. Employers then have 30 days to submit a copy of the accident report for your injury incident to our state’s Workers’ Compensation Commission.
Filing a claim with our state’s Workers’ Compensation Commission should occur after you’ve filed an initial one with your employer’s insurer and you’ve received notice of their decision about it. One of the first documents you’ll want to file with the IL WCC is an Application for Adjustment of Claim. You should continue with treatment per your doctor’s orders and continue reporting lost wages to your employer as you wait for adjudication of your claim. In the interim, you can keep track of the status of your claim using the Illinois Workers’ Comp Case Status Information tool.
What To Expect After Filing a Claim With the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission
If you submit a claim with the IL WCC, you can expect to potentially:
- Receive a notice requesting that you submit to an independent medical examination (IME)
- Have an arbitration hearing scheduled (if reaching a settlement with your employer’s insurer hasn’t occurred)
It can take months or years of legal wrangling to resolve a case if you’re not familiar with the ins and outs of the system.
A Marion, IL workers’ compensation attorney can guide you through the process of litigating your case if your employer isn’t forthcoming in approving your claim to ensure you get the benefits you’re entitled to. Prince Law Firm has extensive experience successfully handling workplace injury and occupational illness cases, and our law firm is eager to assist you, beginning with a free consultation to discuss how to apply for workers’ compensation if you haven’t done so yet.