Workers Compensation Lawyer
Frequently Asked Workers Compensation Questions
Most employees in Illinois have probably heard of workers compensation. However, it seems to me that not many employees know what workers compensation actually is, how it works, or what sort of benefits are available through a workers compensation claim. I used to be in the same boat: before I became a lawyer, I worked in the construction industry and was clueless about workers compensation – until I suffered an injury and had to look into it!
Today, I’m proud to represent injured workers throughout Central Illinois. The following FAQ’s are questions I encounter quite frequently from my clients. If you have a question not answered here, feel free to send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or text message (217-247-4775).
Regardless of the severity of the injury, I truly believe all injured workers should contact a workers compensation lawyer as soon as possible after suffering an injury at work. This is especially true if the injured worker’s boss suggests that the company will “take care of everything” (Hint: that rarely actually happens – trust me!).
There are a number of reasons why I believe all injured workers should work with a workers compensation lawyer. First, the workers compensation process is confusing and difficult to navigate. I really can’t imagine how challenging and frustrating it must be for those who pursue claims on their own. Second, good workers compensation lawyers will ensure that all of your benefits (temporary wage payments, medical bill payments, etc.) are all timely paid. Trust me – staying on top of this can be more challenging than it sounds. Third, if there are disputed liability issues, a workers compensation lawyer will be able to try the case in front of the arbitrator. I don’t mean to suggest that an injured worker cannot try their own case, but I can’t imagine many injured workers have much litigation experience. Finally, when it comes time to seek a permanency award, a workers compensation lawyer will know how to properly value your claim. After all, an injured employee certainly does not want to short change themself.
For those reasons, as well as many others, injured workers typically come out money-ahead (even after paying a contingent attorney fee) while avoiding a huge hassle by working with an experienced workers compensation lawyer.
I handle workers compensation claims on a contingency basis. A contingency means that I am not paid a fee until after a case is successfully resolved. My ultimate attorney fee is a percentage of the overall recovery, meaning my clients do not pay me out-of-pocket. If, for whatever reason, the injured worker does not ultimately prevail, I am owed nothing.
No, in Illinois, a workers compensation claim is not a lawsuit against your employer. A workers compensation claim is simply a claim against the workers compensation insurance that your employer is required to maintain by law. In fact, employees are generally not allowed to sue their own employer for a workplace injury. The workers compensation structure is a sort of trade off: employers are protected from lawsuits while employees are still entitled to benefits assuming the injury was work-related.
In Illinois, workers compensation is “no-fault.” In plain English, this means that injured workers are generally entitled to workers compensation benefit regardless of who was at fault for causing the injuries. So, even if you somehow contributed to causing your own injuries, you are still entitled to receive workers compensation benefits, assuming you can prove that the injury arose out of and in the course of their employment.
Nope! Although many workers compensation claims are filed on behalf of blue-collar workers in dangerous professions, workers compensation covers employees in most industries (agriculture is a notable general exception). This means that even if you work in a not-so-dangerous profession, you’re probably entitled to workers compensation benefits if you suffer an on-the-job injury.
Maybe, but this is a fact-dependent question. For example, if a third-party is liable for causing your injuries, you might have a workers compensation claim against your employer’s workers compensation insurance as well as a personal injury claim against the liable third-party. In fact, even if you decide not to pursue a third-party personal injury claim, the workers compensation insurance company has a right to pursue one on your behalf.
Third-party claims in conjunction with workers compensation claims often arise on construction projects, so don’t think you’re automatically limited to whatever workers compensation may provide you. Spotting and working through those sorts of issues make it important that you begin working with an experienced workers compensation lawyer as soon as possible after your injury.
Damages vary from case-to-case. That said, workers compensation insurance provides for temporary total disability benefits which is set at a percentage of your average weekly wage (subject to a minimum threshold and maximum limit). Temporary partial disability benefits provides an off-set when an employee is able to return to light-duty work at a lower pay scale than before their injury. In addition, workers compensation provides either permanent total disability (PTD) or permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits. PTD benefits are reserved for very serious permanent injuries that leave an employee unable to work, such as the loss of two limbs. Meanwhile, PPD benefits are generally paid to compensate an injured worker who suffers from partial loss of the use of a body part. Workers compensation is also obligated to cover all reasonable and related medical expenses without requiring a deductible or co-pay. There are other ancillary benefits through workers compensation available as well.
The law stipulates that you are required to notify your employer within 45 days of an injury. In practice, you should make the notification as soon as possible. Also, in order to later prove that you properly notified your employer, you should provide the injury notification in writing.
Absolutely not! Your employer is not allowed to terminate you because you exercise your workers compensation rights. Doing so would constitute retaliatory discharge or wrongful termination.
If you are injured while driving for work, you are generally entitled to obtain workers compensation benefits. In addition, depending on who was at-fault for the accident, the injured worker may be entitled to bring a third-party personal injury claim against the at-fault driver.
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