Workers’ compensation can pay for your medical bills and replace some of your missing wages after a workplace accident – but only if you file for those benefits on time. Wait too long and your chances of getting those benefits could disappear.
In Illinois, injured workers must report their injury to their employers within 45 days of the injury. If a worker takes longer than 45 days to say anything, then the insurance company will more than likely deny the claim and argue that the injury could have been suffered at any point between the apparent date of injury and the date of the report. Or the insurer will argue that the injury has probably worsened because of the employee’s decision to wait so long.
In both cases, the insurer could have a solid argument, so you should never wait to report your workplace injury to your employer. Try to tell them about what happened as soon as possible, ideally within the next hour. Reporting it right away will take the burden of reporting it off your shoulders and let your employer start their side of the reporting process sooner than later.
Time Limits for Filing Workers’ Comp Claims
Reporting a workplace accident to your employer is not the same as filing a workers’ compensation claim, which will become necessary if you are not provided an adequate or fair amount of benefits.
Statutes of limitations on workers’ compensation claims in Illinois are:
- 2 years from the last date that you received disability pay or a medical bill was paid for you.
- 3 years from the date of your injury.
The statute of limitation that is used is based on whichever is longer, i.e., whichever gives you more time to file your claim. For most cases, you can probably assume that you will have at least 3 years from your injury to eventually file a worker’s compensation claim in pursuit of necessary benefits that have not been provided.
Why Would You Wait to File a Workers’ Comp Claim?
Many workers are told that they do not qualify for workers’ compensation because of the nature of their injury and/or employment status. This is not always true, though. Hardworking people are often shorted or coerced out of getting workers’ compensation benefits because their employer or the insurer gave them incomplete or inaccurate information about their coverage benefits.
As such, people who need to file a workers’ compensation claim months or years after their injury are often those who never knew they had the right to file a claim in the first place. Depending on the outcome of their claim, they could be reimbursed for medical costs they paid themselves and could get a portion of their missing wages through backpay.
There can also be some filing delays for claimants who suffer a repetitive stress injury (RSI) at work or who have a preexisting injury. For example, an RSI like arthritis could take years before it becomes painful enough to interfere with work, so the worker’s statute of limitations on filing for workers’ comp benefits would likely start on the date their arthritis was diagnosed and linked to their work. Preexisting injuries that are worsened through work can also be difficult to pinpoint, so a claim might not be filed until several doctor’s visits later.
Need help figuring out if you can still file for workers’ comp after a workplace injury in Illinois? Leonard Law Group offers comprehensive legal assistance to workers from all industries and backgrounds. Contact us today to learn more.