Every worker in the state of Illinois has the right to a reasonably safe workplace. When someone is injured or becomes sick while on the job, they are entitled to benefits that cover their medical bills and lost wages.
Few people have a full understanding of every right they have as an employee, though. And when you’re hurt, or you’ve just received a life-changing diagnosis, you don’t have the time or mental capacity to sort through pages and pages of complex legal information.
We hope that this Illinois workers’ compensation settlement guide will provide clear and simple information that will be helpful to your claim. And if you need any additional help or guidance, a compassionate workers’ compensation lawyer from our Marion office will meet with you for a completely free consultation.
To Help You Understand Your Right to a Settlement, We’ll Go Over:
- Workplace injury reporting requirements for the state of Illinois.
- Your right to file an appeal if your claim is denied.
- The types of benefits you might be entitled to in a workers’ compensation settlement.
A Guide to 2023 Workers’ Compensation Law and Settlements in Illinois
Workers’ compensation is a system that provides partial income replacement and medical care for people who are hurt or become sick while on the job. Every state has its own laws and regulations that govern its workers’ comp systems, so it is important to understand how these benefits work in Illinois.
Employees Covered by Illinois Workers’ Compensation
An estimated 91% of employees in Illinois are covered by workers’ compensation coverage. Every employer who has at least one employee is required to maintain workers’ comp insurance coverage. This coverage begins immediately and applies even if your boss is a family member.
If your employer says that you are not covered by workers’ comp because of an exception, speak with a lawyer about your situation immediately. Some employers count on injured workers not fully understanding their rights to unfairly deny claims for benefits.
Reporting an Injury or Illness
In order to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits in the state of Illinois, you must first report your injury or illness to your employer. You have 45 days to report your injury to your employer. Do not worry if your place of work has a policy requiring you to report your injury sooner than 45 days. State law supersedes company policy.
If you’ve been diagnosed with an occupational illness, you also have 45 days from the date of diagnosis to inform your employer.
Work-related illnesses can take weeks, months, or even years to develop. If you were diagnosed with an occupational disease and are no longer employed at the workplace responsible for the illness, please contact an attorney as soon as possible. You may need legal guidance to ensure you do not miss any important reporting requirements.
Keep in mind that it is generally better to report your injury or illness as soon as possible. Don’t wait until days or weeks have passed—as soon as you realize you are hurt or sick, report it to your employer. Providing a written report is preferable to making a verbal report, as this will create a written record.
Once you’ve informed your employer of your injury or illness, they must provide you with a list of approved medical providers. It is important to note that you have the right to choose your own medical provider.
If you are involved in a workplace accident and aren’t sure whether you’ve suffered any injuries, report the accident anyway. This will be useful if you later develop symptoms of a related injury.
Wait for Employer Response
After receiving your notification of injury or illness and providing you with a list of medical providers, your employer will then initiate the claims process with their workers’ compensation insurance provider. If your injury results in at least three days of missed work, your employer will have 14 days to either accept or deny the claim. Your employer also has another 30 days to complete and submit an accident report to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission.
File an Appeal
You have the right to file an appeal if your initial claim for benefits is denied. Do not take a denial as a sign that you are not entitled to workers’ compensation. There are many reasons that claims are denied, including:
- Improper documentation
- Insufficient evidence or information
- Misunderstanding of physical or medical condition
In some circumstances, employers and insurers even choose to deny workers’ compensation claims in an effort to save money. These entities count on you not knowing what your rights as an injured worker are.
Never accept a denial as the end of the road for your journey. An experienced attorney can help you understand what your rights are in this situation and how to move forward with an appeal. Many claims that were initially denied are later approved upon appeal.
Medical and Disability Benefits
An Illinois workers’ compensation settlement can provide the following types of benefits:
Temporary Total Disability (TTD)
You may qualify for temporary total disability benefits if you are unable to work for a period of at least 14 days, or if your employer cannot provide you with alternative light-duty tasks. You are entitled to two-thirds of your average weekly wage, not to exceed the state maximum limit.
If your claim is approved, you will be entitled to receive TTD until you’ve reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). MMI is the point at which your injury or illness is not expected to improve with further treatment.
Temporary Partial Disability (TPD)
Temporary partial disability benefits are available to those who are no longer able to work in the same position, but can work in a reduced capacity, part-time, or on light-duty tasks. For these benefits, you are entitled to receive two-thirds of the difference between your pre-injury wage and your current wage.
These benefits will last until you are able to return to your normal work duties.
Permanent Total Disability (PTD)
If you are unable to return to work due to a disabling injury, illness, or condition, you may qualify for permanent total disability. You can also qualify if you lose the use of both hands, feet, arms, legs, or eyes (or at least two of any of these limbs).
These benefits last for the remainder of your life and are eligible for cost-of-living adjustments over time. You may also have the opportunity to elect to receive your benefits as a one-time lump sum payment, although certain restrictions will apply.
Permanent Partial Disability (PPD)
You qualify for permanent partial disability if you suffered a permanently disabling condition but are still able to work in some capacity. For example, conditions that may qualify for PPD include:
- Hearing loss
- Carpal tunnel syndrome or cubital tunnel syndrome
- Rotator cuff injuries
For PPD benefits, you may qualify for wage differential benefits that are two-thirds the difference between your previous wage and what you are currently able to earn.
Depending on the extent of your injury, you may also qualify for vocational rehabilitation benefits. These benefits are intended to cover the cost of any additional training or vocational rehabilitation programs that you need to reenter the workforce.
Vocational rehabilitation benefits may include services like:
- Job modification
- Job placement
This is not a one-size-fits-all benefit. Vocational rehabilitation will be based on each individual’s unique needs.
Do I Need a Lawyer To Secure a Workers’ Compensation Settlement in Illinois?
No, you are not required to work with a lawyer to recover workers’ compensation benefits in the state of Illinois. However, employers and insurers often try to exploit any gaps in injured workers’ knowledge to deny them benefits to which they are rightfully entitled.
When you choose to work with an attorney, you’ll have someone on your side who has the knowledge, background, and experience needed to help you stand up for your rights. Get in touch with us today, and we’ll schedule you for a completely free case evaluation.