Jerome, Salmi & Kopis, LLC – Law Firm in Fairview Heights, IL

Understanding the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act

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Illinois workers’ compensation insurance, also known as workers’ comp, allows employees in the state to recover benefits if they become sick due to working conditions, or if they are injured on the job. Through workers’ compensation, they can recover their medical expenses and a portion of their lost wages. When employees become sick or injured and the cause is unknown, workers’ compensation does not apply.

In Illinois, most employers are required to provide workers’ compensation insurance under the state’s Workers’ Compensation Act. It is thought that workers’ compensation covers over 91 percent of workers in the State. But obtaining the benefits you deserve after a work injury is not always easy. Therefore, you should reach out to an experienced Illinois workers’ compensation lawyer at JSK who fight hard to make sure you receive the benefits you are entitled to. Contact us today

What Injuries Does Workers’ Compensation Cover in Illinois?

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act will cover specific accidents that occur at work. The Act will also cover many occupational illnesses or injuries that occurs due to repetitive activities or exposures on the job. Some of the most common of these include:

  • Slips, trips, and falls: These injuries include when an employee trips or slips on a hazardous condition, such as a newly mopped floor, and sustains an injury as a result.
  • Repetitive stress injuries: Tendinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and bursitis are just a few of the most common repetitive stress injuries. Repetitive stress injuries are caused by a number of factors, such as lifting boxes, typing on a keyboard, sitting for a long period of time, and production line work.
  • Occupational illnesses: People often work with toxic or harmful chemicals and sometimes, in an unventilated space. This work can result in occupational illnesses, such as mesothelioma.
  • Crushing injuries: Workers sometimes become crushed by the heavy equipment they use, which can cause serious injuries such as damage to internal organs.
  • Electrocutions: Construction workers are at particular risk of being electrocuted while they are at work because the partial structures, they work in often have live electrical wires that are not properly protected.

Sadly, the above are just a few of the most common types of injuries workers can suffer while on the job. Workers’ compensation will cover these, and many more.

Benefits Available Under Workers’ Comp in Illinois

After a workplace accident, your losses could be significant. Workers’ compensation is intended to compensate you for these losses. The benefits you may be eligible for include:

  • Medical costs: You should not have to pay the high medical bills associated with a workplace accident. Workers’ compensation will cover them.
  • Temporary total disability: You can receive temporary total disability benefits if you cannot return to work for a period of time. Generally speaking, these benefits usually equal two-thirds of your wage, and it starts on the third day of work, unless you miss over 14 days of work.
  • Temporary partial disability: Temporary partial disability benefits may cover a portion of your lost income if you can return to work, but you have reduced hours/pay while you perform lighter duties.
  • Vocational rehabilitation: Workplace accidents are sometimes so severe, you cannot return to the same kind of work in the future. In these cases, workers’ compensation can provide job search counseling, vocational retraining, and other vocational benefits. You may also qualify for a financial maintenance benefit.
  • Permanent total disability: If a workplace accident has left you permanently disabled and you cannot return to work, you may receive permanent total disability benefits.
  • Death benefits: If you lost someone you love in a workplace accident, you may be entitled to death benefits. These benefits cover burial expenses and include survival benefits, which are usually two-thirds of the employee’s salary for the past year.

Even when you have a legal right to the above benefits, it can be challenging to obtain them from your employer and their insurance company. The claims process is quite complicated and filled with several potential pitfalls. Additionally, your employer or your loved one’s employer, or their insurance company, may argue you do not deserve full benefits even when you do.

Most Employers in Illinois Must Purchase Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Under the law, the vast majority of employers in Illinois are required to carry workers’ compensation, even those who run a family business. Still, there are some exemptions and they include:

  • Sole proprietors
  • Corporate officers
  • Business partners
  • Members of limited liability companies (LLCs)
  • Family owned farms

Employers who are exempt from workers’ compensation laws and wish to remain excluded must submit a Workers’ Compensation Coverage Opt-Out Form with the state Division of Workers’ Compensation. It is important to note that in this situation, employers must still purchase and carry workers’ compensation for their employees.

Workers’ compensation insurance is intended to help offset the financial burden of workplace accidents for employees. When a worker is entitled to workers’ compensation, and their employer carries the appropriate amounts under the law, workers cannot file a civil lawsuit against their employer.

Employers who do not purchase and carry the workers’ compensation required under the law may face a $10,000 fine if one of their employees becomes hurt. Because injured employees are not eligible for benefits, if their employer did not purchase workers’ compensation, workers can file a lawsuit against their employer.

Another important law all employees should know about workers’ compensation is the reporting component. Under the law, you only have 45 days to notify your employer of the injury or illness you sustained in the workplace. However, you should report the injury as soon as possible, and make sure you tell your employer in writing.

The Workers’ Compensation Wait Period

In Illinois, there is a three-day waiting period on workers’ compensation claims. This means employees are entitled to receive benefits on the fourth day if they are still injured or sick. If you miss more than two weeks of work, the employer has to go back and pay the lost time benefits for the initial waiting period.

The Workers’ Compensation Process in Illinois

In Illinois, you are free to choose the doctor you wish to see. While obtaining the treatment you need from a physician, let them know this is a work injury. The next steps in the workers’ comp process are as follows:

  • You should provide written notice of the injury to your employer as soon as possible.
  • Your employer should then notify the workers’ compensation administrator at the company or their insurance company.
  • You should receive total disability benefits if you cannot work for four days or more.
  • Your employer may ask you for additional information they or the insurance company needs to make a claim.
  • You should receive a letter from your employer telling you whether they approved or denied your claim.

If a dispute arises between you and your employer, or their insurance provider, a hearing will be held before the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. Sometimes, these matters are sent to arbitration. Regardless of how your dispute is handled, when a disagreement arises, you need to speak to an experienced lawyer at JSK who will represent your rights and help you obtain the full benefits you are entitled to.

When Can You File a Civil Lawsuit Against Your Employer?

When employers do not purchase and carry the appropriate workers’ compensation insurance, employees can sometimes file a civil lawsuit against their employer IF they can prove that it was the Employer’s negligence that cause then to become hurt. There are also instances in which workers can file a lawsuit against their employer. These include the following:

  • The employer engaged in intentional misconduct: When employers intentionally commit wrongdoing, workers can file a lawsuit against them. Workers may choose to collect workers’ compensation benefits instead, but they cannot receive workers’ comp benefits, and damages from a personal injury lawsuit.
  • Latent injuries: An update to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act and the Workers’ Occupational Diseases Act allows employees to sue their employer if they suffer from an occupational illness that manifests after 25 years.  This is a very narrow exception for a limited number of conditions.

There are also times when an employee cannot collect workers’ compensation benefits or file a personal injury lawsuit. These include when an employee was fully intoxicated while they were hurt, if the injury was intentionally self-inflicted, or when a worker violated the law.  There are often exceptions to these denials so do not consider them to be immediate bars to obtaining benefits. 

Our Workers’ Compensation Lawyers in Illinois Can Help 

At the Law Office of Jerome Salmi Kopis, LLC, our experienced Illinois workers’ compensation lawyers have a long track record of helping injured employees obtain the benefits they deserve. We want to help you, too. Call us today at (618) 726-2222 or contact us online to schedule a free case evaluation.

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