Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Illinois
- Qualifying for Benefits: In order to qualify for benefits under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, you must establish that you were injured in the course of your employment by a risk arising out of your employment. You also must provide notice to your employer and file a claim in a timely fashion.
- Course of Employment – The course of your employment speaks to the time and place you were injured. Generally, injuries occurring on company property are covered by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. Additionally, employees who travel as part of their employment frequently are covered during the course of their travel. Employees are covered during their work hours, and depending upon the nature of their employment, may be covered for a reasonable time before and after work.
- Arising Out of Employment – An injury that occurs within the course of your employment also must arise out of your employment to be covered by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. Therefore, the mere fact that a condition or injury manifested itself while you were at work is not enough. You also must show that the injury was either caused, aggravated or accelerated by some risk of the employment. This is a complicated area of the law requiring assistance from an attorney.
- Notice – You must give notice to your employer within 45 days of the accident for an injury to be covered by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. This notice can be in writing or given orally. Notice should be given to an individual who holds a supervisory position over the employee. It is encouraged that notice be given as soon as possible after the accident.
- Statute of Limitations – A claim for workers’ compensation benefits must be filed with the Illinois Industrial Commission within three years of the date of injury or two years of the last date of compensation payment, whichever is later. The mere reporting or filling out forms with the employer does not satisfy this obligation. An actual “Application for Adjustment of Claim” must be filed with the Illinois Industrial Commission, Chicago, Illinois. Claimants are encouraged to use competent legal counsel to assist in the filing of these claims.
- The Benefits: Once you have established that you have sustained an injury arising out of the course of your employment, you are entitled to three major benefits: medical benefits, weekly compensation and permanent partial disability.
- Medical Benefits – An employer is required to pay 100 percent of all reasonable and necessary medical treatment to cure the ill effects of an injury. An employee is not required to make co-payments or pay deductibles in connection with a work-related injury. Moreover, an employee has the right to choose his or her own doctor. However, this choice is not unlimited. An individual has the right to choose two doctors and their referrals for treatment at the employer’s expense.
- Weekly Benefits – You are entitled to 66 2/3% percent of your average weekly wage during any period of time you are unable to work because of the injury, including possible lifetime benefits. This payment is tax-free and is based on the average weekly earnings during the 52 weeks prior to the injury.
- Permanent Partial Disability – There are several types of permanent partial disability. When an individual sustains an injury but is able to resume his or her regular earning potential, such injuries are recognized to be a percentage loss of use of the scheduled body parts below:
|Other Toe (each)||13|
|Hand (carpal tunnel)||190|
|Eye Sight (1 eye)||162|
|Hearing (1 ear, complete)||54|
|Hearing (2 ears, complete)||215|
|Fracture to a Vertebrae||at least 6 weeks|
|Skull Fracture (cranial vault)||at least 6 weeks|
|Facial Bone Fracture||at least 2 weeks|
Compensation under this schedule is payable based on a percentage loss of use of each body part multiplied by 60 percent of the employee’s average weekly wage. Additionally, employees are entitled to compensation for disfigurement (scarring), exposure to chemicals, death (minimum of $250,000), permanent wage loss or permanent total disability. If you cannot resume your regular work activities, you may be entitled to vocational rehabilitation under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act at the employer’s expense. Your employer is not required to make an offer of settlement to you and frequently will not without the intervention of an attorney. Unless your employment or labor contract requires such, you need not exhaust your sick or vacation bank before accepting workers’ compensation benefits. Your employer can schedule you for an examination, but cannot mandate your treatment with a specific doctor. Your own negligence is not a relevant factor in determining your entitlement to workers’ compensation benefits. You may have a work-related injury for either a specific trauma (e.g., fall on water in cafeteria) or a repetitive trauma over time (e.g. daily mopping or typing, leading to carpal tunnel syndrome). The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act is a complicated statute that has undergone changes. Your employer’s insurance company and its attorneys have important information that places them at an advantage. We recommend that you consult with us at no fee for an initial consultation and at absolutely no future obligation to you.