As an employee in Chicago, you have the right to receive workers’ compensation benefits if you get injured while working or become sick while performing your job duties. However, getting the compensation you deserve can be a complicated process. To help you navigate the system, this step-by-step guide will provide the information you need to maximize your workers’ compensation benefits in Chicago.
Understanding Workers’ Compensation
What is workers’ compensation?
Workers’ compensation is insurance that provides financial support to employees who get injured or sick while performing their job duties. The purpose of workers’ compensation is to provide injured workers with medical care and compensation for lost wages.
Who is eligible for workers’ compensation?
In Illinois, nearly all employees are covered by workers’ compensation insurance. This includes full-time and part-time employees, as well as temporary and seasonal workers. However, there are some exceptions, such as independent contractors and volunteers.
What types of injuries are covered?
Workers’ compensation can cover a wide range of injuries, including:
- Repetitive motion injuries
- Occupational diseases
- Psychological injuries
What types of benefits are available?
Workers’ compensation benefits include:
- Medical treatment
- Temporary disability benefits
- Permanent disability benefits
- Vocational rehabilitation
- Death benefits for surviving dependents
Do you need an attorney to file for compensation?
The process can be lengthy and complicated. While you do not have to retain an attorney, hiring an experienced workers’ compensation attorney in Chicago can help ensure your claim is handled correctly, all documents are turned in on time, and you receive the maximum compensation. In addition, they are intimately familiar with federal and Illinois laws and Chicago regulations relating to workers’ comp.
In the event of a denial, an attorney can also help you with the appeals process.
Reporting the Injury
You must report your injury to your employer. Don’t wait— failure to notify them within the required timeframe may result in the denial of your claim. In Illinois, you have 45 days to report the injury to your employer.
What to do after reporting
Your employer should provide a list of approved doctors for your medical treatment. Their insurance may only cover treatment from one of these approved doctors. Use the list to seek medical attention for your injury or illness, follow treatment instructions, and document all related expenses.
Filing the Claim
How to file a claim
To file a workers’ compensation claim, you will need to complete and submit a claim form to your employer’s insurance company. Your employer should provide you with the necessary documents and instructions. They will want information about your injury, including the date, time, and location of the accident, plus a description of your injuries.
What to expect during the claims process
After you file your claim, your employer’s insurance company will investigate your claim and determine whether to accept or deny it. An accepted claim will see benefits start coming in; however, there is a chance your claim will be denied. In this case, you may file for an appeal. The appeal goes through the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission and can go all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court.
Types of medical treatment available
Workers’ compensation benefits cover medical treatment for your work-related injury. This may include doctor’s visits, hospitalization, surgery, physical therapy, and prescription medications.
Continuing medical treatment
Your medical treatment may continue until you have fully recovered from your injury. Should you be unable to return to work due to your injury, you may continue to receive medical treatment until you can return to work or until your condition is considered permanent.
Types of benefits available
Workers’ compensation benefits include temporary disability benefits, permanent disability benefits, vocational rehabilitation, and death benefits for surviving dependents.
How benefits are calculated
The amount of benefits you receive will depend on the severity of your injury, your wage, and your recovery time. Temporary disability benefits are paid at two-thirds of your average weekly wage to a maximum amount set by law. Permanent disability benefits are based on the nature and extent of your injury. They may be paid as a lump sum or in weekly payments.
When benefits begin and end
Temporary disability benefits begin after you have missed three work days due to your injury. If you are unable to return to work after your temporary disability benefits end, you may be eligible for permanent disability benefits.
Do note that workers’ compensation benefits are tax-free and do not need to be reported.