If you live in the Chicago area and you have been injured on the job, there is a good chance that you are eligible to claim workers’ compensation benefits. Under Illinois law, most employers have an obligation to carry workers’ compensation insurance to cover employees’ injuries; and, since workers’ compensation is a “no-fault” system, you can claim benefits regardless of the cause of your injury (with only a few limited exceptions).
However, collecting workers’ compensation benefits is not necessarily a straightforward process. Employers and insurance companies will often dispute employees’ claims for compensation, and reductions in benefits and outright denials are both common. Without a clear understanding of your legal rights, you are at a disadvantage, and you are not likely to receive the full benefits you deserve. So, while you need to act quickly, it is also important that you make informed decisions. Here is a brief introduction to some of the key facts you need to know:
5 Key Facts about Illinois Workers’ Compensation
1. You are Eligible for Benefits from Day One of Your Employment
If your employer is subject to Illinois’ workers’ compensation requirement, you are covered for work-related injuries from day one of your employment. Your employer cannot deny your claim because you are a “new” employee or because you have only been employed for a limited period of time. Likewise, as along as you report your accident and file your claim in time, you remain eligible for benefits even after your employment ends.
2. You Have 45 Days to Report Your Accident
Under Illinois law, you have 45 days to report your accident to your employer. If you fail to report your accident within 45 days, your employer may be within its rights to deny your claim for benefits. While you should report your accident in writing, you should also be careful not to submit an incomplete or inaccurate accident report, as these types of mistakes can also jeopardize your financial recovery.
3. You Have Three Years to File Your Claim
In most cases, injured workers in Illinois have three years to file their claims for benefits. Reporting your accident is not the same as filing a workers’ compensation claim. If you report your accident within 45 days but then wait more than three years to file for benefits, your claim may be denied on the grounds that the statute of limitations has expired.
4. You Can (and Should) Choose Your Own Doctor
In Illinois, you have the right to choose the doctor who provides initial diagnosis and treatment for your work-related injury. Your benefits will also cover care provided by any specialists to whom you are referred.
5. Workers’ Compensation May Not Be Your Only Option
While workers’ compensation is a “no-fault” system, the benefits available under the system are limited. As a result, it is important to consider any other sources of compensation you may have available. Depending upon the circumstances involved in your accident, this could include a negligent contractor or subcontractor, a defective product manufacturer, a careless driver, or any of a variety of other third parties.
Speak with a Chicago Workers’ Compensation Lawyer for Free
If you were injured at work and would like to speak with an attorney, you can contact our Chicago law offices for a free, no-obligation consultation. To speak with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in confidence, call (312) 795-9595 or request a consultation online today.