As an employee, you’re focused on doing your job and doing it well. Regardless of how well you do your job, there’s always the potential to sustain an injury. Nearly 8 million people suffer from workplace injuries every year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you suffer an on-the-job injury, you should know there’s a chance you’re eligible for workers’ compensation.
Workers’ compensation laws are determined at the state level. If you’re injured at work in Illinois, it’s important to understand the ins and outs of the laws, so you can receive the compensation you deserve. Our South Illinois workers’ compensation lawyers have the knowledge and drive to help you ease your financial burdens with workers’ compensation benefits.
What Is Workers’ Compensation and Why Is It Awarded?
According to the United States Department of Labor (DOL), over 6,500 workers’ compensation claims have been filed in Illinois, as of July 2018. While not every claim was awarded compensation, injured employees have received a combined total of over $213 million.
It’s not just the individuals working in high-risk jobs like construction or healthcare who are susceptible to workplace injuries. People working in office jobs are just as likely to sustain injuries deserving of workers’ comp. Companies are required by law to have a workers’ comp system in place.
In Illinois, the decision to award is made by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission if there is a dispute between an employer and employee. This state agency manages the court proceedings between the two parties. How the proceedings go is established by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. This act discusses the specific injuries that are to be covered by workers’ comp benefits, as well as scenarios where employees are not eligible for injury-related benefits.
The following injuries are covered under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act:
- Injuries sustained after the repetitive use of body parts for an extended period of time
- Heart attack or stroke sustained because of work conditions
- Pre-existing conditions exacerbated because of work
- Other physical injuries, illnesses, or disease caused by work
The following injuries are not covered under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act:
- Injuries sustained while committing a crime
- Injuries sustained off-the-job
- Injuries sustained while in violation of the company’s policies or procedures
- Self-inflicted injuries
What Kind of Benefits Are Available for Workers’ Compensation Claims in Illinois?
The minimum and maximum workers’ comp amounts are reevaluated and published every six months by the Illinois Department of Employment Security. These amounts are referred to as the statewide average weekly wages (SAWW). Eligibility for workers’ comp benefits is determined by the type of injury sustained, and which disability category that injury falls under.
Temporary Partial Disability Benefits
Temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits cover the period of time when an injured employee is healing. The employee is still able to work, either full-time or part-time; however, their duties are medically required to be lightened. At this time, an employee will earn less than they did prior to being injured; however, the employer is required to pay the employee two-thirds of their weekly wages until they have recovered or are deemed able to return to their regular work status.
Temporary Total Disability Benefits
Temporary total disability (TTD) benefits are awarded to employees who are temporarily unable to work. TTD benefits also apply if an employee is cleared for lighter duties, but an employer is unable to provide them. TTD benefits are not paid for the first three days of missed work unless the employee is out for 14 days or longer. An employee receiving TTD benefits is legally entitled to two-thirds of their average weekly pay for the extent of their leave.
Permanent Partial Disability Benefits
Illinois breaks permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits down into four categories: scheduled awards, nonscheduled awards, wage differential, and disfigurement.
Scheduled awards are provided to employees who have sustained a disability to their ears, eyes, arms, hands, legs, or feet. An employee is generally entitled to 60 percent of their weekly wages for a period of weeks determined by the Illinois Department of Employment Security.
If an injury is sustained to a body party not determined to be eligible for scheduled awards, an employee may be eligible for nonscheduled awards. This often applies to internal injuries, like to the spine or organs. An employee receiving nonscheduled awards is also eligible for 60 percent of their original weekly wages.
If an employee has suffered a permanent impairment, they may be eligible for wage differential. Wage differential is awarded in situations where a person is required to take on a new position as a result of their injury. For five years, or until the age of 67, they’ll be entitled to two-thirds of the difference between their original average weekly wage and what they make in their new position.
In the event an employee suffers from serious and permanent disfigurement to a visible area of the body, they are eligible for up 60 percent of their average weekly wages for a little over three years.
Permanent Total Disability Benefits
Permanent total disability (PTD) benefits are awarded for the most serious of injuries, often involving the amputation of multiple limbs or loss of eyesight or hearing. If after your treatment your doctor determines have you sustained a permanent disability, you are eligible to receive two-thirds of your weekly average pay, or whatever you were being awarded for TTD benefits, for the rest of your life.
Additional Benefits and Limitations
In addition to recovering a portion of the lost wages, injured employees may be eligible for medical benefits to cover treatments and mileage reimbursement for traveling to and from the hospital. In the event they are unable to return to their previous position, some may be eligible for vocational training.
If a loved one sustains a fatal workplace injury, the family may be entitled to assistance with funeral expenses and survival benefits. The survival benefits are equivalent to two-thirds the deceased person’s average weekly wages.
Employees seeking workers’ compensation benefits cannot recover payment for pain and suffering in Illinois.
How Can a Southern Illinois workers’ Compensation Lawyer Help Me Prove My Claim?
To file a workers’ comp claim, the employee needs to prove the following:
- The employee worked for the employer when the accident happened
- The employee notified the employer within the required timeframe of the incident leading to the injury
- The employee was not violating any company policies when they were injured
- The injury or disease was sustained on-the-job
- The injury or disease was sustained because of employment
- The injury or disease was made worse because of employment
If you’re the victim of an on-the-job injury, pursuing workers’ compensation benefits can ease your financial burden while you recover. While a medical professional’s testimony is likely to play a large roll in whether or not you’re eligible for benefits, that may not be enough. Your employer is likely to have a strong legal team supporting them who may argue about the extent of your injury, the necessity of medical treatment, or your average wages.
Without proper legal representation, you may not receive fair compensation. Our Marion, IL workers’ compensation lawyers have a proven track record of helping individuals receive benefits after sustaining an on-the-job injury in Marion and the surrounding Southern Illinois areas. Contact us today for a free evaluation of your claim.