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Illinois Workers' Compensation Attorneys
Illinois workers’ compensation cases are handled through the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. They cover all injuries that arise out of and in the course of your employment including specific injuries like herniating a disc in your back when you lift a box or repetitive trauma cases like getting carpal tunnel from excessive typing. They also cover occupational disease injuries like exposure to fumes.
Illinois has a no fault law which means that you do not have to show your employer was at fault to make a claim for benefits. Instead you just have to show that your injuries arose out of and in the course of your employment. In other words, if you get hurt while doing something for the benefit of your employer, it is typically covered. Even if you were at fault you still can pursue a case. You cannot sue your employer for negligence in most cases.
There are three main benefits that you typically get under Illinois workers’ compensation law:
- Payment of 100% of your medical bills. This means no co-pays or out of pocket expenses for any treatment that is reasonable and related to your job injury.
- Temporary total disability benefits which is 2/3 of your average weekly wage, tax free. This is for the time that you are temporarily unable to work or have restrictions that your employer can not accommodate.
- Permanent partial disability. When you are at maximum medical improvement which is when your doctor has discharged you from his care you are entitled to compensation for the permanent nature of your injury. If you are unable to return to work or can only work a job where you make less money you may be entitled to compensation for permanent disability or a wage loss.
With respect to your medical care, you generally are allowed to see a doctor of your own choosing. However, some employers may establish a network of preferred providers from which you are supposed to choose. Injured workers in Illinois get two choices of doctors, including referrals from each. If your employer has a preferred provider network, you can opt out, but it will cost you one of your choices, leaving you with just one doctor choice. Beyond that, you will likely be responsible for your own medical bills.
Under Illinois law your employer is not supposed to have any communication with that doctor other than to ask for copies of medical bills and reports. They are not supposed to interfere with your treatment in any way, although they can send you to a doctor of their own choosing for a one time medical exam called an independent medical examination (IME).
When hiring an Illinois work injury attorney we recommend that you hire a lawyer who focuses their practice almost exclusively on representing injured workers and has a track record of success. Attorneys on these cases work on a contingency basis which means that they only get paid if they are successful for you. Since an hourly fee isn’t required it makes sense to go with the best one you can find.
Attorney’s fees in Illinois work injury claims are limited to 20% of whatever your lawyer recovers for you (usually just on permanent partial disability). In other words, if they get you a $50,000 settlement their fee would be $10,000. If they get you nothing you would owe them nothing for their work. Please note that there is no limit as to what can be recovered for an Illinois work injury case.
Under Illinois law you are required to give your employer notice of your injury within 45 days of the accident. The best way to do this is in writing by filling out an accident report so there can be no dispute as to notice having been provided. If you fail to provide proper notice your case can be dismissed.
Like other Illinois cases, there is a statute of limitations (time-limit) that you have to file your case or it will be forever barred. Within the three years from the accident date or two years from the last payment of compensation, whichever is later, you need to file an application for adjustment of claim. This is a document that is filed with the state that formally notifies your employer and the state that you are pursuing your case.
Finally, please know that in Illinois a workers’ compensation claim is not a lawsuit, but rather a claim for benefits similar to filing for health insurance or long term disability. In almost every instance your law firm deals directly with the insurance company for your employer, not the employer themselves. Unlike health insurance coverage disputes there is an opportunity for quick action to make a disputed job injury case better. If the insurance company is found to have acted unreasonably they may be charged with significant penalties.
In the worst case scenario a good Illinois work accident attorney is like a security blanket in case you have questions or anything goes wrong. Under the best case scenario they prevent problems from arising or solve problems like unpaid benefits or denial of needed medical treatment. It makes sense to have someone in your corner who will look out for you and level the playing field.
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- Ten questions to ask a workers’ compensation attorney
- Your first meeting with a work injury attorney
- Stages of a Workers’ Compensation Case
- Workers’ Compensation 101
- Independent Medical Examinations in Workers’ Comp Cases
- Vocational Rehabilitation in Workers’ Compensation Cases
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