Surviving a Workplace Injury in Chicago: A Guide to Worker’s Compensation

Worker’s compensation is a form of insurance your employer must carry that protects you if you’re injured on the job. In Illinois, all employers are required to carry worker’s compensation insurance for their employees, with few exceptions.

If you are injured in an accident or illness caused by your work, then worker’s compensation will help with medical bills and lost wages, among other benefits.

You must file a claim for worker’s compensation as soon as possible after suffering an injury because time limits apply. If you wait too long before filing your claim, then it may not be accepted. Illinois‘ statute of limitations is two years, but some policies limit that to reporting the injury or illness within 45 days.

Surviving a Workplace Injury in Chicago

Filing a Claim in Chicago

The first step to filing a worker’s compensation claim is to contact your employer. If the injury happens at work, locate your manager immediately so they can send you for medical attention and record the incident. If your doctor later diagnoses you, ask for a copy of the records from your visit and then contact your employer.

Either way, your employer will hand you a claims form from their insurer. You will need to write down everything you know or can remember about what led to your illness or injury. For example, if there was an accident, try to remember: 

  • What happened?
  • When did it happen?
  • Were there any witnesses?
  • Were you in the range of a camera?

Collect documentation while the insurance carrier reviews the claim form; you may need it if your appeal is denied. You should also contact a personal injury lawyer to ensure you follow all procedures correctly and meet any deadlines.

Navigating the Appeals Process

If your claim is denied or you are dissatisfied with the decision, you may file an appeal. This can be done by filing a complaint online or in writing with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC).

Include evidence supporting your position—the documentation we discussed earlier and anything else bolsters your case. If you retain a lawyer, they will help you gather evidence and submit the complaint.

The IWCC will then review all relevant information in a hearing and decide whether to uphold the original ruling. If you have a lawyer, they will represent you during the hearing and any subsequent appeals. Your claim can go all the way up to the Illinois Supreme Court before the decision is final.

How Worker’s Compensation Helps You

Medical Care Coverage

Worker’s compensation, once approved, will cover any medical treatment related to your workplace injury or illness. This includes office visits, medication costs, physical rehab, hospitalization, etc. You may be required to see approved practitioners chosen from the insurer’s list.

Compensation for Lost Wages

The amount you can receive depends on how long you were out of work, how much money was being made at your job, and what kind of benefits your employer offers.

Temporary Disability

If you cannot return to work for an extended period, such as six months, your lost wages compensation will transition to temporary disability benefits. This will mean the amount you receive is adjusted; your lawyer can ensure the calculation is fair.

Total Disability Benefits

If you can no longer work due to what happened, your worker’s compensation will provide total disability benefits. This will again be calculated separately from the lost wages, and your lawyer will again ensure the amount is fair.

Vocational Rehabilitation

If you are not fully disabled but are prevented from performing your previous job duties, worker’s compensation can handle vocational rehabilitation services like training for a new field of work, classes, staffing agencies, resume help, and more.

Death Benefits

If your injury or illness leads to your untimely demise, your family can use your worker’s compensation coverage. This will help cover the expenses of any care before death, as well as funeral and burial costs. It will also provide a set percentage of your income to help your family get on their feet.

Returning to Work

If your doctor clears you to return to work, make sure you understand any medical restrictions they place on your abilities. Obtain a copy of their orders and ensure your managers know your limited work capacity. You may need to be assigned light duty or temporarily work in another position. Your place of work cannot undermine your medical provider; if they attempt to do so, contact your lawyer.

Wrapping Up

Congratulations! You’ve made it to the end of this guide. We hope you learned something new and are now better equipped to navigate the worker’s compensation process.

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