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What Are the Workers’ Compensation Laws in Chicago?
Suffering an injury is never fun, but if it happens at work, things can be even more complicated, as you may wonder what to do. Will you need to cover your expenses out of pocket? Should you file a lawsuit? Can workers’ compensation pay for the costs of treating your injury and your time away from your job?
Understanding your city’s and state's workers’ compensation policy is essential to know what to do in case you suffer work-related injuries. In Chicago, the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act regulates employee injuries that occur on the job. The act provides specific rules you and your employer must follow in the case of an injury at work.
Morgan and Morgan provide legal assistance to employees who experience an injury while at work. For help with your Chicago workers’ compensation claim, schedule a free case evaluation with our skilled workers’ compensation lawyers.
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Who Must Carry Workers’ Compensation Insurance In Illinois?
What are the workers’ compensation laws in Chicago? All employers with employees who work for them must have a workers’ compensation policy. Even small businesses with one or two employees must carry the insurance.
However, exceptions do exist. Sole proprietors with no employees or workers, corporate officers, business partners, and family-owned farms do not have to have a workers’ compensation policy.
Employers who do not have a workers’ compensation policy but are not exempt from coverage face severe penalties and fines.
If an employee becomes injured while at work and the employer does not have workers’ compensation, they may be subject to a $10,000 fine and a misdemeanor or felony charge. In addition, the worker may file a civil lawsuit against the employer.
Employers are wise to take their workers’ compensation responsibilities seriously. You never know when an accident may occur, and having the proper insurance safeguards your business and employees from financial harm.
What Types of Injuries Does Workers’ Compensation Cover in Chicago?
Workers’ compensation covers most injuries that occur on the job in Chicago. A few of the most common types of work-related injuries include:
Electrocution occurs when a wire or electrical socket releases an unexpected burst of energy while an employee is holding or otherwise in contact with the object.
The impact of electrocution can be severe, especially when the released electricity is at extremely high voltages. Symptoms can vary from simple tingling of the body up to a heart attack or respiratory arrest.
People working as electricians, construction workers, or in other positions that regularly come into contact with electricity are at a higher risk of electrocution.
Employees exposed to toxic chemicals may develop diseases due to their exposure. Employers must follow the proper safety protocols to protect employees from harmful chemicals. They should ensure adequate ventilation and provide their workers with safety equipment for breathing.
Workers may develop diseases such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, emphysema, or other illnesses when frequently exposed to toxic chemicals without adequate protection.
Slips and Falls
Slips and falls can happen to anyone, no matter where they work. Whether the injury results from spilled water on a floor, loose cables, or debris left unattended, a slip and fall accident can result in severe repercussions. People who suffer a slip and fall injury may experience sprained or broken bones, contusions, or head injuries.
Repetitive Stress Injuries
A repetitive stress injury occurs when someone repeatedly performs the same action over a period of time, like lifting heavy objects or typing on a computer. Like slips and falls, repetitive stress injuries can occur at any job. Usually, they come on slowly and worsen over time.
Crushing injuries occur when a person becomes caught between a heavy object or machinery. Individuals who work in manufacturing, construction, or other sectors that regularly use heavy equipment are more susceptible to crushing injuries. Crushing injuries may result in broken bones, damage to internal organs, or death.
While these are the most typical injuries experienced by workers on the job, it’s not a complete list. Other work-related injuries may also be eligible for a workers’ compensation claim.
What Types of Injuries Aren’t Covered by Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation insurance doesn’t cover every injury that occurs on the job. Injuries not covered by workers’ compensation insurance include:
- Self-inflicted injuries, like starting a fight with colleagues
- Injuries sustained while committing a crime on the job
- Injuries sustained because the employee was intoxicated
- Automobile accident injuries while driving to or from work
If you’re unsure if your injury is covered under workers’ compensation, speak with an attorney knowledgeable in Chicago workers’ compensation laws at Morgan and Morgan.
What’s the Procedure for Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Chicago?
Employees who can prove on-the-job injuries must follow a strict process to receive workers’ compensation benefits in Chicago. The process occurs over several steps:
Notify the Employer of Your Injury
A workers’ compensation claim cannot begin without notifying your employer that you have work-related injuries. In Chicago, employees have up to 45 days following the date of their initial injury to notify their employer.
However, there are certain exceptions to the rule. For example, employees exposed to radiation have up to 90 days to file a claim. If the employee develops a disease and believes the cause of the illness is related to their job, they should report it as soon as they become aware.
Failure to notify an employer of an injury in the appropriate timeframe can result in the denial of a workers’ compensation claim. Workers should also ensure their notification is in writing. It’s not enough to simply tell human resources or a manager about the injury. Instead, they must write out the details concerning the injury and how it arose.
See a Doctor for Medical Treatment
Some states require that injured employees see specifically authorized doctors according to their workers’ compensation insurance. That isn’t the case for Illinois. If you’re injured while working for an Illinois employer, you can choose the doctor you prefer to seek treatment from.
However, if your employer is part of an Illinois Preferred Provider Program, they will give you a list of doctors approved by the workers’ compensation insurance policy. You can choose to see one of them in addition to your preferred physician, but you are not required to do so.
Keep all records of treatments and diagnoses that you receive. You’ll need them as evidence of your injury.
Receive Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Once you file your claim, your employer is obligated to begin paying you benefits once you cannot work for at least three days. Usually, payment is equal to two-thirds of your regular weekly pay. You may be eligible for increased benefits if you have a spouse or dependents.
Your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance plan should cover all medical expenses associated with your claim. You should not need to make any copayments or payments toward a deductible.
If your injury results in scarring or permanent disability, your employer’s workers’ compensation policy may provide you with additional benefits.
Issues often arise when an employee suffers severe or catastrophic injuries while at work. Insurance providers may seek to limit their exposure to financial damages by claiming the injury wasn’t work-related or that errors were made in the claims process.
If your employer’s insurance company denies your claim or disputes the severity of your injuries, you should contact a skilled workers’ compensation attorney at Morgan & Morgan for help.
You’ll need your benefits for medical treatment and general expenses — you don’t want to lose out on compensation because the insurance company doesn’t want to work with you.
File an Illinois Application for Adjustment of Claim
The employee should file an Application for Adjustment of Claim with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. The application asks employees to provide relevant information concerning the incident that led to the injury. A licensed Illinois notary must notarize it.
While workers must notify their employees of their injury within 45 days of an incident, that isn’t the case with the Application for Adjustment of Claim. Employees have up to three years from the date of the incident to file the application.
It is unnecessary to file this application if your employer is already paying you the proper benefits and disability payments.
However, you will need to obtain a resolution from the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Committee if there are disputes between you and your employer. If there are such disputes, the Application for Adjustment of Claim starts the arbitration process.
What Types of Benefits Can I Receive From Workers’ Compensation?
Typical benefits provided through workers’ compensation include coverage of past and future medical bills associated with the treatment and two-thirds of your lost wages if you are unable to work for more than three days.
Employees who suffer permanent disability, scarring, or disfigurement may be eligible for additional benefits. If you cannot perform your regular duties due to your condition, you may receive benefits for vocational retraining or education to allow you to find a new job.
Can I File a Civil Lawsuit Against an Employer Concerning a Workplace Injury?
If your employer does not have a workers’ compensation insurance plan and is required to have one, you can file a civil lawsuit against them. To do so, you will need to prove that your employer behaved negligently and that their negligence resulted in your injuries.
You may also be able to file a civil lawsuit against your employer if there was intentional misconduct that resulted in your injuries.
What Are the Workers’ Compensation Laws in Chicago?
The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act establishes work-related injury rules for employers and employees. To file a workers’ compensation claim, you must have been injured while at work and notify your employer within the appropriate period — usually 45 days.
The workers’ compensation insurance policy will pay any medical expenses and lost wages for the employee unless disputes arise concerning the injury.
Why Should I Hire a Workers’ Compensation Attorney?
Employees seriously injured while at work should obtain the benefits they need to recover through their employer’s workers’ compensation policy.
However, sometimes employers are reluctant to admit fault, or insurance companies may deny claims. A workers’ compensation attorney can ensure you are represented fairly and work to obtain the monetary damages you deserve.
Get Help With Your Workers’ Compensation Claim from Morgan & Morgan
At Morgan and Morgan, we represent employees injured on the job in workers’ compensation cases. As the largest personal injury firm in the United States, we have skilled and knowledgeable attorneys who can assist you in your workers’ compensation case. Use our contact form today to schedule a free case evaluation with our team.