Injured at Work: What Now?
In Illinois, 200,000 work-related accidents occur every year, according to the most recent report of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC). Of these, roughly one-third result in more than three lost workdays, which can severely impact an employees’ pay.
Normally, when a person is injured by the fault of another, the injured person can file a lawsuit to recover for his or her damages. But, as we’ve explained before, that option isn’t available in workers’ compensation cases. So, if you’ve been injured on the job, what are you supposed to do? And what can you expect of the process of recovering for your injury? Read on to find out!
1. Workers’ Compensation in Illinois
In the early 1900s, the Illinois government began to realize that the existing Illinois personal injury laws were inadequate to protect workers injured while on the job. Courts had developed a number of doctrines that made it difficult for injured workers to prevail against their employers.
To solve that problem, Illinois developed a system of workers’ compensation that operated completely separate from the traditional personal injury process. That system is still with us today, although it has been tweaked over the last century. The main elements of the Illinois workers’ compensation system are:
- The requirement that employers carry workers’ compensation insurance. Every Illinois employer must purchase workers’ compensation insurance or, with the permission of the state, self-insure.
- The prohibition on personal injury lawsuits over workplace injuries. Employees are not allowed to sue their employer for their on-the-job injuries. Instead, they notify their employer of the injury, who then refers it to the workers’ compensation insurer or administrator.
- No-fault compensation. In exchange for losing the right to sue, employees gain the right to compensation without having to prove that their employer is at fault.
2. What to Do if You’ve Been Injured at Work
So, if you can’t normally sue your employer for on-the-job injuries, what do you do if you’ve been injured while at work? As we mentioned above, the first step is to notify your employer of the injury. You should do so within 45 days of the accident that injured you.
Hopefully, that will be the end of it. Your employer will begin paying workers’ compensation for your injury, and you can move on.
Unfortunately, that isn’t always the way things go. If your employer refuses to pay workers’ compensation, then you should contact a workers’ compensation attorney in Illinois. Your attorney can then communicate with your employer in an effort to obtain the compensation you deserve. If that fails, your attorney can help you file a claim with the IWCC.
There, you will be provided with the opportunity to present your case to an arbitrator. If you can prove that you are eligible for the benefits your employer has refused to provide, the arbitrator will order your employer to pay you those benefits. But, whether you win or lose, you or your employer will have the opportunity to appeal to a three-commissioner panel of the IWCC. That decision can then be appealed to the Illinois courts.
3. How Costa Ivone Can Help
Although we’ve tried to provide an overview of the workers’ compensation process in Illinois in this post, a blog post can never fully explain all of the issues involved in that process. Some people do try to contest their employers’ decision to refuse to pay benefits on their own, but that approach is risky. Your employer will have an attorney who knows the rules and knows how to build an effective case. You should not deprive yourself of the same opportunity.
If you’ve been injured on the job, then you should contact the knowledgeable Chicago workers’ compensation lawyers of Costa Ivone. We offer a free consultation, so reach out to us as soon as possible so we can help you understand your next steps.