Crystal Lake Workers’ Compensation Lawyers
Attorneys Serving McHenry County & the Surrounding Areas
The Illinois workers’ compensation system is designed to ensure that injured workers have access to compensation when they’re injured on the job. In theory, the system provides for a conflict-free means of providing for the worker’s needs, avoiding the strain that would result from litigation between the worker and employer.
Unfortunately, obtaining full compensation for your injuries isn’t always easy. Like most insurance companies, workers’ compensation carriers tend to estimate low and even look for ways to exclude coverage. Therefore, the injured worker often has to fight for fair compensation.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Illinois Workers’ Compensation provides for a range of benefits, depending on the injury and the worker’s circumstances. These include:
- Medical care
- Temporary Total Disability (TTD) for employees who are unable to work for at least three days as a result of their injuries
- Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) for employees who are reassigned to lower paying jobs while on limited duty after an injury
- Vocational rehabilitation
- Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) for employees whose ability to work is permanently limited
- Permanent Total Disability (PTD) for employees who are permanently unable to work after the injury
- Death benefits for surviving family members
Each type of benefits is designed to protect workers under specific conditions, but each also provides an opportunity for dispute. For example, the insurance carrier may disagree about the type and extent of medical care that is necessary, or about the degree to which the employee’s medical problems and limitations are a result of the work injury.
The Workers’ Compensation Process
Immediately after an injury, the injured worker is required to make a report to the employer. The report should be made as soon as is reasonably possible, but in most cases this must be within 45 days.
Assuming that the employer complies with the law, this report will trigger an employer’s report to the Insurance Compliance Commission. Depending on the seriousness of the injury and lost work time, the employer may also be required to start Temporary Total Disability payments.
If the employer fails to fulfill its obligations or a dispute arises as to the extent of the injuries and appropriate amount of compensation, the employee may file a claim with the Commission. About 50,000 Illinois employees file claims with the Commission each year.
The claim will initially be determined by an arbitrator, but either party can appeal to the Commission. If the injured worker is not a state employee, the Commission’s decision may be appealed in court. The process can be complicated and time-consuming, and the likelihood of receiving a fair settlement will depend to a great degree on how well-constructed your case is, especially the quality and clarity of your evidence.
A workers’ compensation claim will generally not be resolved until the injured worker reaches maximum medical improvement. That means that in the case of a serious injury requiring a lengthy recovery and rehabilitation, the final settlement may be delayed for months or years.
Additional Responsible Parties in Work-Related Injury Cases
In Illinois, workers’ compensation is an exclusive remedy as to the injured worker’s employer. That means that the employee cannot file a personal injury claim against his employer in connection with an on-the-job injury. However, in some cases third parties bear some or all of the responsibility for the injury, and the injured worker may have a separate claim against those other parties.
For example, if a construction worker is injured on site when a defectively-designed ladder collapses under him, he may have a product liability claim against the manufacturer. This type of claim may allow the victim to recover for damages not addressed by the worker’s compensation statute, such as pain and suffering.
Protect Yourself after a Work-Related Injury
When you’ve been injured on the job, it may be difficult to sort out who bears responsibility for the injury and whether you have additional claims beyond workers’ compensation. You may also face resistance from the insurance company that creates an obstacle to receiving the medical care you need, or keeping your bills up to date while you are disabled.
You don’t have to fight this battle alone. Our experienced workers’ compensation attorneys can help. All you have to do to get started is schedule a free consultation right now.