Illinois Workers Compensation | It’s the law, and it protects YOU!
So why should you want a Chicago workers’ compensation lawyer? Let’s look at it this way…
If your car were hit by another driver’s car you wouldn’t hesitate to use your insurance and put through a claim. Workman’s compensation insurance is the same thing. Your employer has an insurance policy they pay for that’s there in case you get hurt at work.
It’s there to get things back to normal as soon as possible – it’s insurance, and you should feel as comfortable with these insurance claims as we do with our car or health insurance claims.
Every single state has different workers compensation laws and they’re complicated. Not all personal injury attorneys take workers compensation cases because of that. It takes a real Illinois Workers compensation expert to know the specific laws in Illinois, how it works, what it does, or if you even qualify for it. Watch the video below to see our founder, Marc Shuman, answer common Workers’ Comp questions.
A workers’ compensation lawyer can get you financial compensation if you’ve been injured or become ill because of your job. One of our highly qualified Chicago based workers’ compensation lawyers can make SURE you get the benefits you’re entitled to.
Whether it’s your first day (or your 500th day) on the job, if you have a job-related injury, there’s a 95% chance that you’re covered by workers’ compensation.
Here are some important legal details about workers’ compensation that everyone needs to know:
- It pays for the entire medical costs of job-related injuries and diseases.
- It covers nearly every employee in Illinois (95%)
- Coverage starts from the moment a job begins.
- It’s required by law in the State of Illinois by all employers.
When Should I Hire A Lawyer?
More complicated cases, such as a chronic respiratory condition or degenerative disc disease, surgery claims; herniated disc injuries; repetitive trauma cases; are best handled by an experienced workers compensation lawyer to ensure you receive all the benefits/compensation that you’re entitled.
If you are facing any of these situations, we strongly recommend talking with one of our workers’ compensation attorneys:
- Your employer denies your claim.
- You don’t receive your benefits in a timely manner.
- You have a pre-existing medical condition.
- Your injuries/illness prevents you from returning to work or from working altogether.
- Your employer retaliates against you for filing a workers’ comp claim.
- You receive SSD benefits (Social Security could be entitled to a large part of your benefits if your workers’ comp claim isn’t organized properly)
Workers’ comp law is far from black-and-white and it changes dramatically state to state. In many cases, the employer or their insurer will dispute the extent of the afflicted worker’s disability and/or refuse to pay for medical expenses or Temporary Total Disability payments.
To get all the Workers’ Compensation benefits that you’re legally entitled, it’s VERY important that you have an attorney who knows these laws inside and out.
We have over 35 years of experience with Workers’ Comp cases in Illinois.
If you’ve been hired by an out-of-state company to do work within the state of Illinois, and that company conducts business with its employees in Illinois.They have to provide a workers’ compensation insurance policy to cover you.
I was hired by on out of state company to work within Illinois. Am I covered by workers’ comp?
Yes, if your company came from out of state, we have a workers’ compensation lawyer that can help you too.
Likewise, if you’re an employee of an out-of-state company and came to Illinois to work and was injured doing work in Illinois, you need to file your claim in Illinois.
Filing a workers’ compensation claim can feel confusing and overwhelming, especially when you’re trying to recover from a work-related injury or illness. Let us help you!
Since 1996, Shuman Legal, an experienced workers’ compensation law firm has been helping victims of workplace accidents throughout the State of Illinois, including the Greater Chicago area and surrounding communities to successfully navigate the complexities of the legal process.
Illinois Workers’ Compensation FAQs
Illinois law requires employers to provide workers’ compensation insurance for almost everyone who is hired, injured, or whose employment is localized in Illinois. Sole proprietors, business partners, corporate officers, and members of limited liability companies may exempt themselves. Overall, however, it is estimated that 91% of Illinois employees are covered under the Act.
An employer that knowingly and willfully fails to obtain insurance may be fined up to $500 for every day of noncompliance, with a minimum additional fine of $10,000. Corporate officers can be held personally liable if the company fails to pay the penalty. Since 2006, the Commission has collected over $7 million in fines. This provides workers the proper legal protection and other employers a fairer competitive arena.
At the State level here in Illinois, workers’ compensation is mandatory for every worker across the state. Workers’ compensation is a government-mandated system that pays monetary benefits to workers who become injured or disabled in the course of their employment. Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that offers employees compensation for injuries or disabilities sustained as a result of their employment.
The workers’ compensation system provides injured workers with medical care, income (or a percentage of income), and survivor benefits in cases of fatalities. The worker, in turn, waives the right to sue his or her employer.
At the Federal level, which comes into play if you are employed by the federal government in the State of Illinois, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) administers the four major disability compensation programs which provide to federal workers (or their dependents) and other specific groups who are injured at work or acquire an occupational disease:
- Wage replacement benefits
- Medical treatment
- Vocational rehabilitation
- Other benefits
The Illinois Workers Compensation Commission resolves disputes between employees and employers regarding work-related injuries and illnesses. A case is first tried by an arbitrator, whose decision may be reviewed by a panel of three commissioners. Cases may then be appealed to the circuit court, Appellate Court, and Illinois Supreme Court. Like most court systems, most disputes are resolved by settlement.
There is an online Illinois workers compensation settlement guide available to anyone which focuses on what past workman’s compensation settlements have been. You can find it here:
Settlement Guide On-Line gives you instant access to case summaries of all Illinois Worker’s Compensation nature and extent decisions from 2005 through 2019. Case summaries are linked directly to their corresponding Commission decisions. Just “click” on the case number.
Settlement Guide On-Line also gives you instant access to case summaries linked to Illinois Commission decisions addressing 24 key issues relating to injuries arising out of and in the course of employment and employee/employer relationships including idiopathic and unexplained falls, personal risks, ordinary activities of life, horseplay, assaults, parking lot injuries, lunch break injuries, recreational activities, independent contractors and more are linked to their corresponding Commission decisions.
The Settlement Guidebook is also available.
The latest Settlement Guidebook contains case summaries of all Illinois Worker’s Compensation nature and extent decisions for three years – 2017, 2018, and 2019. It also contains summaries addressing 24 key issues including idiopathic and unexplained falls, personal risks, ordinary activities of life, horseplay, independent contractors and more.
In addition, the Illinois Workers’ Compensation handbook provided by the Compensation Commission in turn provides a basic explanation of the workers’ compensation program, benefits, and procedures at the Commission. If you would like them to mail you a copy of the handbook, you can request a copy email@example.com
If you want to explore the resources made available to every employee publicly by the Illinois Workers Compensation Commission, you can find those here.
Every six months, the Illinois Department of Employment Security publishes the statewide average weekly wage (SAWW). The SAWW sets the maximum and minimum weekly benefit levels for workers’ compensation. To calculate the SAWW, total wages are divided by the total number of employees in the past six months. Some employees worked every day, and some worked only a few days, but all are counted together. (Federal workers and self-employed workers are excluded.) According to Section 8(b)6, the IWCC is to post the rates by January 15 and July 15 of each year.
Although every attempt is made to calculate the workers’ compensation rates in an accurate and reliable manner, only the Illinois statute governs. Where there is a disagreement between the statute and the IWCC’s calculations, the statute is correct. (Rates updated 7/15/20)
Statute of limitations: https://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=2430&ChapterID=68 – states that an employee has up to 3 years to file a claim, if you have been injured or become sick at work and it was less than 3 years since that occurred we can help you with your claim.
Workers’ compensation claims are applications for compensation after an injury at work. The benefits include compensation for medical treatment, disability payments, permanent disability settlement, vocational rehabilitation, or survivor benefits to dependents after the death of a worker.
Contrary to the common misconception that the State pays workers’ compensation claims, payment for claims is actually handled by private insurance companies. Consequently, employers have to take out workers’ compensation insurance. This is to cover workers who may receive injuries on the job.
Workers’ Compensation covers:
Workplace Injuries – Injuries at the workplace may happen even if you don’t work in a high-risk work environment. Some injuries can occur due to simple things like a slippery bathroom floor. You reserve the right to pursue benefits for time lost and medical bills due to workplace injuries no matter your work environment. Therefore, report all injuries that you sustain to your employer immediately. Plus, you should ensure that you obtain medical help.
Occupational Disease – Regulations protect employees from work-related injuries that occur over time due to exposure to workplace hazards that are unique to a given industry or occupation. Such medical conditions or injuries may occur upon a worker’s exposure to dangerous compounds or chemicals. If you have developed a condition or can no longer work due to an occupational disease, you can pursue a Worker’s Compensation Claim.
Toxic Exposure – Long-term exposure to specific toxins or chemicals such as inhalation of asbestos or breathing cotton fibers in the workplace may lead to occupational cancer, lung disease, and other incapacitating illness.
Repetitive Strain Injury – You can make workers’ compensation claims for injuries resulting from wearing of tendons, muscles, and ligaments. Especially, if these injuries are due to repetitive tasks and motions. The resulting injuries may be excruciating and disabling and could include painful inflammation and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Third-Party Liability – If your injury was instigated by a third party, including a contractor or a subcontractor performing a job at your workplace, you can place a Worker’s Compensation Claim to cover your enormous lost wages or medical expenses.
Generally, anything that leads to a serious injury while on the job can qualify an employee for worker’s compensation. The injury does not need to result from a single, isolated incident. For example, repetitive stress injuries (e.g., carpal tunnel syndrome) also receive cover.
Injured personnel can qualify even if it’s determined that they were at least partly at fault for the accident. However, true gross negligence, such as flouting an explicit workplace safety rule or operating machinery while intoxicated, might disqualify an employee from these benefits. Intentionally injuring oneself while on the job is another disqualifier.
You can in some cases but proving that you have suffered a mental injury due to work-related stress is more difficult than proving you have a physical injury.
When you suffer a physical injury on the job, that’s something that you can see, that can be documented and that a doctor can verify.
A mental stress injury lacks the ability to be measured in this way, making getting approved for workers’ compensation for this type of injury challenging.
If you are trying to file workers’ compensation for stress first, you need to report your stress-related injury to your supervisor, then, you’ll need to follow up with whatever type of paperwork your employer requires you to fill out, and then you are going to need a doctor to back up your claims.
If you are claiming your stress injury happened at work, then by law, you have the right to medical treatment. A mental stress injury is no different here than a physical injury. Your employer has to provide you with medical treatment if you request it.
This is the big question. To simplify the matter, we can fairly say that an employee must fulfill all three of the following requirements in order to be eligible for these benefits:
- The employer of the worker has worker’s compensation insurance (or, if this is not so, is required to carry it).
- The worker is an employee of the employer.
- The injury sustained by the worker is related to the responsibilities of their job.
Independent contractors are usually excluded from qualifying for worker’s compensation as they are technically not true employees of the company. Bear in mind, however, that some independent contractors are intentionally misclassified by their employers. They pull this trick in order to save on payroll taxes and related expenses.
If this is the case, then the employee may qualify once all the applicable facts have been properly reviewed. In addition, agricultural employees, undocumented personnel, and seasonal workers are usually exempt as well.
If you have been injured on the job, you may be wondering how to file a worker’s compensation claim in order to recoup some of the money you spent on medical bills or lost while taking time off work. You are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits as long as you were clocked in at work when you were injured and you were following the best practices outlined in your employee handbook.
When people ask us, “How do you file for Workers’ Compensation in Illinois?” Our answer is that, if you go through the process without an attorney then you may get the first two benefits of workers comp, which are your medical treatment and missed wages covered. However, you likely won’t get offered a settlement for your injuries and if you do then it will be grossly insufficient. We wouldn’t be in business if we didn’t fight for our clients to get them FAR more than they would on their own.
Here is a guide on how to file a worker’s compensation claim:
Get Medical Care: Get medical care as soon as possible after the injury occurs. Even if you do not think you need to see a doctor, pay a visit all the same. It’s often necessary to provide a professional diagnosis when you file your benefits claim.
Inform Your Employer: You need to inform someone in a supervisory capacity at your place of employment of your injuries within 45 days of the time of the accident. In most cases, your employer will be the one to complete your workers’ compensation claim form. Work closely with him or her to make sure that all paperwork is submitted in a timely manner.
Contact an Attorney Regardless if your employer has already filed your workers compensation claim or not, you want to work with an attorney in order to ensure you get a settlement from your injury. If you don’t work with an attorney then chances are you will get little to no settlement.
Generally, you can file a workers’ compensation claim through your employer since the company must file for your benefits.
In most states, you must immediately notify your employer of the injury and then fill out a formal claim. Illnesses that develop over time (such as a chronic respiratory condition or degenerative disc disease) can complicate cases and a doctor’s expert opinion may be required.
If you have a case like this, hiring a workers’ compensation attorney is in your best interest. Without an attorney you may get your medical bills paid and your lost wages covered but you will either not receive a settlement for your injuries or it will be grossly inadequate compared to what it would be if you had an attorney fighting for you.
If you’re returning to work following an injury, it’s very important that you follow workers’ compensation return to work restrictions carefully. If your doctor feels that you can return to work safely while following certain restrictions, then failing to do so could end up causing your claim to be denied, or you may even lose your job.
Your employer will be provided with a copy of your work restrictions, which they’re legally required to abide by. If your employer feels that you cannot perform any functions of your job under the restrictions that your doctor places you under, then you won’t work and will instead get a worker’s compensation benefit check.
Your employer should receive a list of your work restrictions, but it’s still a good idea to have a copy with you when you return to work. Make sure that you follow the instructions. Failing to do so could result in you making your injury worse which is the last thing you want.
If your employer is insisting that you do something that violates your doctor’s restrictions, you should refuse to do so and contact a worker’s compensation lawyer immediately. This is very unlikely to happen since employers know that violating doctor’s restrictions could get them into a lot of trouble.
One thing you should make it a point to do is keep an open line of communication with your employer. If something that you’re doing is causing you pain, let them know. Then, follow up with your doctor.
Doctors aren’t perfect and it’s possible that one could send you back to work with restrictions that are inadequate to protect you from further injury. Remember, your health is what is most important here, so don’t take any chances. If you’re in pain, then speak up.
You should also do whatever you can to avoid an adversarial relationship with your employer. You may be unhappy that you have an injury. On the other hand, your employer may be unhappy that they’re dealing with a worker’s compensation claim that will probably make their worker’s compensation insurance rates go up.
No matter how you feel, try to get along with your employer. When this process is complete, the ultimate goal is for you to be healthy. And, of course, for you to return to work. So, damaging your relationship during the worker’s compensation process could affect you adversely down the road.
Through the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), you are given the ideal chance to balance your job and family responsibilities. The FMLA entitles you to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a year.
The main criteria for granting unpaid leave are:
- You have a serious health condition.
- To care for your immediate family member who has a serious health condition.
- The FMLA describes serious health conditions on a wider base than disability. It also includes:
- Physical or mental medical conditions
For these conditions to be covered by the Family and Medical Law Act, they have to be significantly severe and show evidence that they require multiple treatments combined with intermittent absences. General medical checkups and cosmetic surgeries are not catered for by this Act. The 12-week leave is unpaid. However, many employers find it beneficial to you, the worker, to take the FMLA leave concurrently with your normal paid leave.
During FMLA leave, you must continue your employee health insurance benefits. Additionally, you are entitled to be reinstated to your former or equivalent position upon the completion of your leave. In some cases, your employer may reinstate you in a demoted position and you have a right to dispute that decision.
If you are facing such a scenario, contact our workers’ compensation attorneys at the Law Offices of Shuman Legal.
If you have worked in the same place for at least 12 months, you are eligible to take the FMLA leave. To qualify you must also have worked for more than 1,250 hours over the 12 months. If you are denied, seek legal assistance from workers’ compensation attorneys to fight for your rights.
In some instances, you are eligible for the FMLA leave. Thus, if you get an on-the-job injury that is a “serious health condition,” you should consider your workers’ compensation leave as an FMLA leave too.
The Family and Medical Law Act statute does not differentiate between non-work and work-related injuries. Therefore, a serious on-the-job injury that needs you to take leave for inpatient care will be covered by FMLA.
You cannot retroactively designate the time you spend on workers’ compensation leave against your FMLA entitlement. If that scenario happens, our workers’ compensation attorneys are an ideal choice for legal assistance.
Are worker’s compensation benefits taxable in Illinois? No, they are not. Workers’ compensation benefits, including any settlement that you receive due to a workplace injury, are tax exempt. Why is that?
Worker’s compensation is a benefit to help you when you are experiencing hardship. Another reason that worker’s compensation is not taxed is due to the fact that you’re already losing income because you’re not working.
Worker’s compensation benefits payout 66% or 2/3 of your normal weekly pay. If this reduced wage was subject to income tax, then it would place you under an even greater financial hardship.
Money Paid for Medical Bills Is Not Taxable Either
If you suffer a workplace injury that requires extended medical care, the cost for that care can be very high. The good news is that all of your medical bills related to your workplace injury will be paid for through your workers’ compensation claim. Our workers’ compensation attorneys can help you make sure you get all the benefits you need when you need them!
The other good news is that the money that you receive toward your medical bills doesn’t count as income for you. This is important because for tax purposes anything you receive as compensation for work is usually taxable, including bonuses.
Non-work-related income is taxable as well. For example, if you win money gambling, the winnings are income and are taxable. So, it’s normal for people who have medical bills paid for through worker’s compensation to worry that this might be considered income, which could be taxed.
Fortunately, there’s no need to worry since your medical bills your worker’s compensation claim pays are not any form of income.
Are Workers Compensation Benefits Taxable When You Receive A Settlement?
If you suffer a significant injury at work that will require ongoing medical care, it’s common for your employer to offer you a one-time settlement. This means that he or she won’t have to be responsible for continuing payments to you and continuing medical expenses.
A worker’s compensation settlement will take into account your projected future lost earnings and projected future medical bills. Additionally, it will consider the extent of any permanent disability that you incurred as a result of your workplace accident. When you receive this settlement, you’ll receive the full amount that you are due. This is because worker’s compensation settlements are never taxed.
Workers Compensation Payments Are There to Afford You Financial Stability While You Recover from Your Injuries
The primary reason that workers’ compensation insurance exists is to ensure that any worker injured on the job will have access to the medical care that they need. Without worker’s compensation, workers employed by a business that closes wouldn’t have any means of paying for their treatment.
The secondary reason that workers’ compensation exists is to provide injured workers with a financial safety net. Few people can go for an extended period of time without working. So, if you sustain an injury on the job, worker’s compensation will provide you approximately 2/3 or your normal pay.
By not taxing your benefits it allows workers to receive a closer amount of income to what they would normally take home when they are working.
There are occasions where a claim is denied by your employer, the reasoning could include any of the following:
- Failing to report your injury on time and/or failing to follow the procedures of your employer and filling out all necessary paperwork could cause your claim to be denied .
- Your employer may also claim that your injury is not work-related.
- Your injury doesn’t meet the guidelines of the state for an injury.
- You attempted to file a claim for worker’s compensation after leaving your job.
If your worker’s compensation claim is denied for any reason you’ll receive a letter in the mail explaining why your claim was denied. Make sure that you keep this letter. You should also read through it to see if there was some kind of error on your employer’s part leading to your claim being denied.
You could try to discuss the matter with the adjuster for the insurance company, but in most cases, this won’t do a lot of good. Remember, insurance companies don’t want to give you money if they don’t have to.
If you’ve been denied workers comp benefits for an injury that happened on the job, you have the ability to appeal that decision. When an employee files a worker’s compensation claim, this will frequently cause the rates that the business pays for their insurance to go up. Paying a higher premium for insurance will affect the bottom line of any business. Therefore, if they think they’ve found a way to avoid a worker’s compensation claim, they’re going to take it.
If you want the best chance at winning your appeal, consult with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer. The legal process for filing an appeal is complicated, and unless you’re a lawyer you’re going to struggle to navigate the process.
An added bonus of hiring a lawyer is that it lets your employer and the insurance company know that you aren’t going to allow them to deny you benefits. Realizing that you aren’t going to just go away often prompts insurance companies to offer a settlement rather than risk going to trial. Especially, when they could end up paying out much more in compensation to you.
A workers compensation lawyer can get you financial compensation if you’ve been injured or become ill because of your job? One of our highly qualified Chicago based workers’ compensation lawyers can make SURE you get the benefits you are entitled to.
Filing a workers’ compensation claim can feel confusing and overwhelming, especially when you’re trying to recover from a work-related injury or illness.
Workers’ compensation insurance has coverage for issues that are too many to mention, these are the most common coverages:
- Payment of all related medical costs
- Rehabilitation coverage
- Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefits
- Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) benefits
- Permanent Total Disability (PTD) benefits
- Wage Differential benefits
Even if your employer is not explicitly at fault, in the case of a slip or fall accident, for example, you are eligible to file a claim. All that is required is that you were performing your work duties and were not violating any company policies at the time the injury occurred.