Answers from Practiced Chicago Workers’ Compensation Attorneys
When injured on the job, you are confronted with a complicated set of legal issues. You might be tempted to take whatever money you are offered in order to begin paying off your medical bills and other expenses, but don’t! You could be eligible for compensation that secures your present and future care. Hiring a skilled Chicago workers’ compensation lawyer is crucial in obtaining success and in getting the results you need and deserve.
Can my employer fire or discriminate against me for filing a workers' compensation claim?
No, an employee cannot be fired or discriminated against for filing a workers compensation claim. This is prohibited by Section 4(h) of the Illinois workers' compensation act. If it can be proven you have been fired or discriminated against because of the exercise of your rights under the Illinois workers compensation act you may have a retaliatory discharge, wrongful termination, or discrimination lawsuit that can be brought in the Circuit Court. The Illinois workers compensation commission does not have statutory jurisdiction to hear these types of lawsuits.
Is there a statute of limitations for workers' compensation claims in Illinois?
The statute of limitations for Illinois workers' compensation claims is 3 years from the accident date if no compensation has been paid such as TTD or medical bills or 2 years from the date of the last compensation payment of either TTD or a medical bill, whichever is later.
How long do I have to report my injury?
Generally speaking, you have 45 days to report your injury to your employer. If your claim is for a repetitive injury please see Durand v. Illinois Industrial Commission wherein the Illinois Supreme Court discusses the manifestation date for repetitive injuries.
Are all employers in Illinois required to buy workers’ compensation insurance to cover their employees?
Yes, nearly every employer in Illinois is required to have current workers’ compensation insurance for all of their employees. As long as an employer hires one employee, full-time or part-time, workers’ compensation coverage must be purchased and provided.
There are a few exceptions to coverage requirements, such as:
- Corporate officers like CEOs
- LLC members
- Business partners
- Sole proprietors
- Independent contractors
The exceptions in this brief list do not need to be covered by workers’ compensation, either purchased through an authorized insurer. Employees working under an excluded worker still require workers’ compensation, though.
My employer says they are self-insured – what does that mean?
Employers in Illinois do not need to purchase workers’ compensation from an insurance carrier if they are approved to be self-insured, which is a process handled by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWWC). A self-insured company does not mean its workers become ineligible for workers’ compensation benefits. After a workplace injury, and if your employer is self-insured, you must be provided benefits the same as or greater than what would have been granted through a traditional workers’ compensation policy.
My employer is located outside of Illinois, but I work here for them – do I get workers’ comp?
Yes, you are required to be covered by workers’ compensation benefits due to Illinois’s laws, even though your employer is in another state. Your employer needs to purchase a workers’ compensation plan that functions in Illinois, which could be an expansion of their other workers’ compensation policies or an entirely separate one for you and other coworkers in your area.
What does my employer have to do after I’m hurt in a work-related accident?
When you are injured in a work-related accident, your employer has a few responsibilities to fulfill, starting with ensuring you get proper and immediate medical attention. Afterward, your employer has to complete a First Report of Injury form to be filed with the IWCC as soon as possible. When investigations into your injury begin, your employer must also comply within reason and cannot attempt to interfere with this process.
What is my workers' compensation claim worth?
This is by far the most frequently asked question Leonard Law Group encounters. The answer is based on the nature of your injury or injuries, the amount of money of your hourly or salary pay and the permanency of your injury or injuries. Without having access to your medical records this answer cannot be provided. Access to your medical records requires you to hire Leonard Law Group. If you contact Leonard Law Group and ask what the value of your claim is we cannot tell you without a thorough review of your medical records.
Can I hire Leonard Law Group if I already have hired another attorney?
Yes. This will require you to execute a few legal documents and retain Leonard Law Group. It does not cost anything to terminate your current attorney and hire Leonard Law Group. You will pay a 20% attorney fee that Leonard Law Group will split with your former attorney and the remaining 80% of your lump sum settlement or installment award is yours tax-free.
How long will my TTD payments last?
Your TTD is paid when you are unable to work because your doctor has authorized you off work or you are placed on light duty work restrictions and your employer cannot accommodate your restrictions. Your TTD could also cease if your claim is denied from its inception or an IME doctor has opined you can return to work in some capacity and your employer has a light-duty accommodation.
Am I provided with transportation by the insurance company to and from my doctor and therapy visits?
Illinois workers' compensation commission case law generally says no.
When will my case settle?
Your attorney will most likely engage in settlement negotiations when you are discharged from medical care. If you settle your claim prior to being discharged any medical bills you incur subsequent to your settlement may be your responsibility.
What about my pain and suffering?
There is no pain and suffering in workers' compensation claims, it is not a compensable damage in workers compensation claims, only in personal injury cases. You do not get money in workers' compensation cases for pain and suffering. Workers' compensation claims evaluate the permanency of your medical conditions.
Does the length of time I am off work have any bearing on my case value?
No, the length of time you receive TTD benefits has no bearing on your case value, it is a separate and distinct benefit from PPD.
When should I hire an attorney?
When you feel most comfortable. You can hire Leonard Law Group at your convenience. If your benefits have been stopped it will take at least 45 days to subpoena your medical records in anticipation of trial.
If I hire an attorney will my workers' compensation benefits stop?
No. This is the most common misconception in the practice of workers' compensation. In fact if you hire Leonard Law Group early on we can anticipate and prepare for trial faster than if you hire us after your benefits have been terminated and you are receiving no income.
Am I guaranteed a settlement?
No. Another common misconception in workers' compensation practice. You are not guaranteed a lump sum settlement. In fact in some situations the insurance company can pay your settlement in weekly installments to you and your attorney and not lump it out to you. In other instances, if your injury is not permanent you may not receive any sort of settlement or installment award.
Does the insurance company pay my union dues or group health insurance benefits while I am collecting workers' compensation benefits?
No. If your case is deemed compensable the insurance company is required to pay you TTD benefits when you are off work and your causally related reasonable and necessary medical bills. Remember, they are not required to pay you a lump sum settlement.
Can the insurance company surveillance me during my claim?
Yes, and if your case is large enough you can almost guarantee at some point they will.
What is a nurse case manager?
A nurse is optional and only allowed on your claim if you or your attorney consents. Her job is to coordinate your medical care and update the insurance company on your medical progress.
I don’t like my doctor, can I find a new one?
Yes, you have the option to see two doctors of your choice independent of referral from one another. Any referrals from these two doctors to another doctor do not count as a choice. If your employer has a Preferred Provider Program in place on the date you are injured your medical rights may be further limited.
My claim settled and I received an unpaid medical bill?
If your settlement contract cut off the insurance company’s liability to pay any unpaid medical bills they are your responsibility.
What are open medical benefits?
This means your medical rights are left open by the insurance company either because your settlement contract left them open or because your case proceeded to trial and you were awarded an installment award. Open medical benefits come automatically with a successful trial and in some instances the insurance company will leave them open as part of your settlement if you have large anticipated future medical costs.
What if I cannot return to my former job or am rendered unemployable as a result of my injury?
See the link entitled wage differential on our site. If this is your case, you need legal representation. Call Leonard Law Group and speak to a partner.
My injury was caused by the negligence of a co-worker can I sue him or her too?
No, in this instance your only remedy is workers' compensation relief.
My injury was caused by the negligence of a 3rd party can I sue him or her too?
Yes. If this is the case, you may have two cases – a personal injury case against the 3rd party employer and a workers' compensation case against your employer.
Do I get any compensation if my employer is penalized for not having workers’ comp insurance?
Illinois can impose a $500-per-day fine against an employer that does not have adequate workers’ compensation insurance, with a minimum of $10,000. An employer who violated workers’ comp requirements can also be criminally charged in some circumstances. You do not get any award from administrative and criminal penalties enacted against your employer, though. You can sue them in civil court for the financial benefits undelivered due to the lack of workers’ compensation insurance. In court, the employer has the burden of proof, not you, and you can be awarded any amount, meaning it could be much more than you would have gotten through workers’ comp.
Can the workers' compensation insurance company lien my personal injury case?
Yes, they can lien your case for up to 75% of their total lien. Their total lien is comprised of TTD payments, medical payments and any workers' compensation settlement you may receive, whether in a lump sum or installments. This lien may be negotiable by your attorney.
Why are fees more in personal injury cases than in workers' compensation cases?
Because the legal work that goes into a personal injury case, including the hiring of experts, oral and written discovery and pre-trial and post-trial motions can be very exhaustive. As a general rule, there is no discovery in workers' compensation claims. Workers' compensation is also a no-fault system.
Can the arbitrator assigned to my workers' compensation case get me my job back?
No, the arbitrator assigned to your case receives his or her powers from the workers' compensation act. He or she cannot act unless the workers' compensation act gives him or her the power to act. The Act does not grant any arbitrator in Illinois the power to force your employer to re-hire you.
Will it hurt my case if I miss a doctor’s appointment or therapy appointment?
Generally speaking no. But make sure to call and cancel with sufficient notice. Also, make sure your lawyer notifies the insurance company.
What is utilization review?
UR is when a physician or panel of physicians who review medical procedure recommendations to ensure they are reasonable and necessary. The insurance company can deny approval for medical procedures based on a non-certification from a UR.
Do I need to hire any attorney for my workers' compensation claim?
No. But remember you will be at a disadvantage throughout your case as your knowledge base does not exceed that of the adjuster or defense attorney. At some point you may be taken advantage of.