Workers’ compensation benefits are designed to provide a financial safety net for anyone injured on the job. These benefits cover a wide range of medical costs related to injuries sustained at work, including hospital stays, surgical procedures, prescribed medication and rehabilitation sessions, among other treatment. They also provide missed wages for workers who aren’t able to immediately return to their careers because of an injury or illness.
Because of the significant amount of money involved, businesses, insurers and government agencies take a close look at workers’ compensation benefits claims. A person who files a false or fraudulent claim faces significant consequences, including steep money penalties and potential jail time.
Applying for Workers’ Compensation
Illinois workers’ compensation benefits are administered on a “no fault” basis. You don’t have to prove that your employer is to blame for your injuries. You do, however, have to show that the injuries (or illness) are related to your job. That means establishing that you were injured in an accident at work or that you suffered an injury caused by your job.
To get benefits, you first have to notify your employer of the injury or illness and explain when and where it was sustained. If the company or its insurer declines to provide benefits, you can then file an application with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. This is a state government body that considers benefits claims. You can also appeal the Commission’s decision and eventually take your case to a state court if needed.
Penalties for Fraud
The commission and Illinois law enforcement officials do not take kindly to workers who file fraudulent claims, whether it involves faking an injury or exaggerating the impact. It’s illegal for a worker to file a false claim, make false statements during the claim process or present false medical bills and other evidence. It’s also unlawful for an employer or insurer to make false statements in order to deny a benefits claim, to destroy evidence or conceal assets during the claim process or to provide a false proof of insurance.
These crimes may be considered a misdemeanor or felony. The penalties vary widely based on the circumstances and the amount of money involved. A person who tries to defraud an insurance company of $300 or less, for example, commits a misdemeanor punishable by $2,500 in fines and up to a year in prison. If you try to bilk an insurance company for more than $100,000, you’re looking at a felony. That crime comes with as much as $25,000 in fines, and a mandatory minimum of four years behind bars.
Contact the Chicago Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at the Jackowiak Law Offices Today
At the Jackowiak Law Offices, we help those who were injured on the job get the full compensation available to them under the law. We are conveniently located in downtown Chicago and we are pleased to come to you if needed. Contact us online or call (312) 795-9595 to speak with an attorney.