Were you injured in an accident at work in Carlinville, Illinois? Accidents could happen in any industry, and they often result in injuries that range from minor to severe or disabling. As an employee in Illinois, you are likely covered by your employer’s worker’s compensation policy, but getting the benefits you deserve can be challenging. That’s why you should hire an experienced Carlinville IL worker’s compensation lawyer from the Noll Law Office in Springfield to help you seek the benefits you need and deserve.
Eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits will depend on the nature of your employment and the circumstances surrounding the accident. In Illinois, most employees are covered under the Workers’ Compensation Act (820 ILCS 305), making them eligible for benefits in the event of an injury or illness suffered on the job. However, navigating the claims process can be challenging, especially if you’re facing an uncooperative employer or insurance company.
That’s when the Noll Law Office can step in. The attorneys have an in-depth understanding of Illinois workers’ compensation laws and the rights of injured workers. Don’t let workplace accidents derail your life. Trust the Noll Law Office to help you with your worker’s compensation benefits claim or appeal if your claim has been denied. For a 100% free confidential consultation to discuss your case, call (217) 414-8889 or fill out our contact form today.
Navigating the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Process
Understanding the steps involved in the Illinois workers’ compensation process can help alleviate some of the stress and confusion that comes with an on-the-job injury. If you’ve been hurt on the job or have developed a job-related illness, the process of seeking compensation will likely go as follows:
- Seek immediate medical attention – Following a severe workplace injury, it’s crucial to seek medical help right away, either at a hospital or clinic. You have the right to choose your healthcare provider, and your employer should cover all related expenses without any out-of-pocket costs for you. If an injury becomes evident after leaving work, obtain medical care promptly.
- Report the injury – You should notify your supervisor that you’ve been injured when the accident occurs. Even if you’ve done that, it is essential to formally inform your employer about your injury as soon as possible, ideally within 45 days of the accident. The prompt notification makes it more difficult for your employer to dispute the work-related nature of your injury.
- Provide work restrictions documentation – Get documentation outlining any work restrictions from your healthcare provider and share it with your employer.
- File your claim – Your lawyer can file an Application for Adjustment of the Claim with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission on your behalf. They can also submit an Attorney Representation Agreement that specifies the lawyer who will assist them throughout the process. From there, your lawyer will closely monitor your case and promptly address any issues, ensuring your rights and benefits are protected.
- Continue your medical treatment – Your employer is responsible for covering reasonable, necessary, and work-related medical treatment until you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI). MMI is the point at which further medical care will no longer improve your condition.
- Get an independent medical examination (IME) – Your employer can request a second opinion on your condition, necessary treatment, and work restrictions by sending you to a non-treating physician for an IME. It is advisable to consult with your attorney before attending an IME.
- Resolve treatment disputes – If there is a disagreement between your treating doctor and the IME doctor, your attorney can request a hearing to help settle the dispute.
- Negotiate for additional benefits – If your workplace injury results in a permanent inability to perform your previous job, your employer may be obligated to cover retraining costs for alternative employment.
Workers’ Comp Benefits Overview
In general, worker’s compensation benefits will cover expenses for recovery from your injuries, which could include:
- Emergency care
- Medical appointments
- Hospital services
- Physical therapy
- Chiropractic care
- Prosthetic devices
- Prescribed medical devices
- Equipment like lifts or wheelchairs
- Home modifications, such as wheelchair ramps
Workers’ compensation benefits you could obtain might include:
- Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefits – If you cannot work during your recovery, or if you’re offered light-duty work you cannot perform
- Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) benefits – If you are working light duty while recovering and earning less than you were before the injury
- Wage Differential benefits – If you are able to work, cannot return to your prior employment, and obtained a job that pays less than your pre-injury work
- Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) benefits – If you have a permanent disability or disfigurement but can still work
- Permanent Total Disability (PTD) benefits – If you are permanently unable to work
- Approved vocational recovery or retraining programs
- Death benefits – For surviving family members of those who pass away due to a workplace injury or illness
Which Medical Provider Should I Choose?
After a workplace injury, you are allowed to select your own medical provider, but if your employer is part of Illinois’ Preferred Provider Program (PPP), your options are limited to two physicians within that network. If your employer doesn’t have a PPP, you can choose any medical provider and seek a second opinion from another provider. If you received first aid or emergency care from another provider, that would not count toward your two choices.
Employers may require an evaluation by their chosen medical provider, but you are not obligated to accept treatment from them. Employers must cover exam costs, including travel expenses, meals, lost wages, and other expenses.
Treatment Costs in Workers’ Comp Cases
The Illinois Worker’s Compensation Commission (IWCC) has a fee schedule that specifies the cost of most medical treatments. Employers are required to pay the lesser of the provider’s actual charge or the fee schedule amount. Employers may also contract with a provider to cover care required by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act at an agreed-upon cost. Injured workers are not required to pay the remainder of any unpaid medical expenses.
Temporary Total Disability (TTD)
TTD benefits are available to you if you are temporarily unable to work or can perform light-duty work but the employer has no light-duty work available. Your benefits would usually be 66.6% percent of your average weekly wage in the year prior to your injury. TTD benefits are paid until you return to work or complete the healing process.
Temporary Partial Disability (TPD)
TPD benefits cover you if you are still healing and working light-duty jobs, whether part-time or full-time and earning less than your pre-injury wages. Your benefits will usually be two-thirds (66.66%) of the difference between the average amount you would be able to earn in the pre-injury job(s) and the gross amount you earn in the light-duty job. TPD benefits continue until you can return to your regular job or complete the healing process.
Wage Differential Benefits
Wage differential benefits can be paid if you are able to work but cannot return to your prior job, either because your work restrictions will not permit you to perform that job or the job no longer exists. Your benefits would usually be 66.6% of the difference between the amount you earn in your new job and what you would have been earning in your old position. If you obtain employment elsewhere at a lower rate of pay than your pre-injury job, wage differential benefits would cover the gap.
Permanent Partial Disability (PPD)
PPD benefits will be paid if you suffered the complete or partial loss of a body part, complete or partial loss of use of a body part or partial loss of use of your body as a whole. A “schedule of body parts” can be found at 820 ILCS 305/8. Each body part on the schedule is assigned a specific number of weeks’ pay. You can then multiply the number of weeks on the schedule by 60% of your average weekly wage in the year prior to your injury to determine how much compensation you might expect.
Permanent Total Disability (PTD)
PTD benefits apply when you permanently and completely lose the use of both hands, both arms, both feet, both legs, both eyes, or any combination of two such parts, or when you are permanently unable to perform any work (in a reasonably stable job market). PTD benefits equal two-thirds of your average weekly wage for life, subject to minimum and maximum limits.
Vocational Rehabilitation and Return-to-Work Programs
Vocational rehabilitation, including job search counseling, supervised job search programs, and vocational retraining, may be available to you while you’re receiving worker’s comp benefits. If you cannot return to your pre-injury job, your employer must cover treatment, instruction, and training necessary for your physical, mental, and vocational rehabilitation.
Death Benefits for Fatal Injuries
In the event of a fatal injury, workers’ compensation provides burial and survivors’ benefits to the deceased employee’s family. The burial benefit is $8,000 for injuries resulting in death after February 1, 2006, and $4,200 for injuries resulting in death prior to that date. Survivors’ benefits equal two-thirds of the deceased employee’s gross average weekly wage spanning the 52 weeks prior to the fatal injury accident. The employee’s spouse and any children under the age of 18 will be the primary beneficiaries of these survivors’ benefits.
Common Worker’s Compensation Missteps
Navigating Illinois’ workers’ compensation system can be challenging, and even small missteps can have significant consequences on your claim. Being aware of common mistakes could help you avoid pitfalls and ensure you receive the benefits you deserve.
Failing to Properly Report Your Accident
Failing to report your accident to your employer promptly and accurately could significantly jeopardize your workers’ compensation claim. Make sure to provide a detailed account of the incident and submit the required documentation within the specified timeframes.
Failing to Give a Full and Accurate History to Medical Providers
When seeking medical treatment for your work-related injury, make sure to give your healthcare provider a complete and accurate account of your injury and prior medical history. Failing to do so may result in incorrect diagnoses, inadequate treatment, and potentially significant issues with your workers’ comp claim.
Failing to Complete and File an IC45 First Report of Injury
Illinois’ Worker’s Compensation Act requires that you notify the Illinois Worker’s Compensation Commission of an accident if you are required to miss more than three days of work. To do so, you must complete and file an IC45, otherwise known as Form 45. Neglecting to file this form can lead to delays or denial of your workers’ comp benefits. Make sure to complete and submit this form within the required time frame to avoid potential issues.
Failing to Follow Your Doctor’s Orders
Not following your medical provider’s prescribed treatment plan could negatively impact your claim. Make sure to follow all of your doctor’s medical recommendations and attend all scheduled appointments to demonstrate your commitment to recovering from your injury.
Not Knowing When to Return to Work
Returning to work too soon or too late can impact your workers’ compensation benefits. Consult with your healthcare provider and follow their advice regarding when it is safe and appropriate for you to return to work.
Failing to Request a Second Opinion
If you are unsure about your medical provider’s diagnosis or treatment plan, it’s essential to seek a second opinion. Failing to do so may result in inadequate care or missed opportunities for additional benefits. Be aware of the “two-doctor rule.”
Settling for the Rating Only
Accepting a settlement based solely on your disability rating may not fully compensate you for your injury. It’s crucial to consider all factors, such as future medical expenses and lost wages when negotiating a settlement.
Settling Your Claim Without a Job
Settling your workers’ comp claim without first securing a job or having a return-to-work plan could leave you without income or benefits if you are unable to find suitable employment. Make sure to consider your long-term financial needs before finalizing a settlement.
Not Hiring an Attorney, or Hiring the Wrong Attorney
Navigating the workers’ comp system can be complicated and trying to do so without an attorney or working with an inexperienced attorney might result in a less favorable outcome for your claim. Seek professional legal advice from a qualified attorney with experience handling workers’ compensation claims.
What To Do After a Workplace Injury in Carlinville Illinois
After being injured at work, take the following steps to protect your health and your right to claim workers’ compensation benefits.
- Seek immediate medical attention – After a workplace accident, your health should be your top priority. Depending on the severity of the injury, get first aid, go to a nearby hospital, or visit a doctor as soon as possible. Prompt medical treatment not only aids your recovery but also documents the extent of your injury.
- Report the injury to your employer – Notify your supervisor or employer about the injury as soon as possible, ideally within 24 hours. Delaying this step could jeopardize your eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits. Provide written notice if possible and keep a copy for your records.
- Document the incident – Take detailed notes about the accident, including the date, time, location, and circumstances leading up to the injury. If possible, gather contact information from any witnesses and take photographs of the accident scene and your injuries.
- Follow your doctor’s advice – Adhere to your healthcare provider’s recommendations for treatment and any work restrictions. Failing to comply with medical advice can negatively impact your workers’ compensation claim and prolong your recovery.
- Keep records of medical treatment and expenses – Keep a file with all medical bills, reports, prescriptions, and any related expenses. These documents serve as evidence of the costs associated with your injury and help substantiate your claim.
- Talk to a worker’s compensation lawyer – Make sure to hire a lawyer to assist you with your claim and help you get the benefits you need to recover and get back to work.
What to Look for in a Workers’ Comp Attorney
Choosing the right workers’ compensation attorney can make a big difference in your worker’s compensation claim. When selecting a lawyer to represent you, be sure to consider the following:
- Background and experience – Look for an attorney with a strong background in workers’ compensation law, as this area can be complex and requires specialized knowledge. Inquire about their years of experience, the types of cases they typically handle, and their success rate with similar cases.
- The initial assessment of your case – During your initial consultation, ask the attorney for their honest evaluation of your case. This includes their opinion on its strengths and weaknesses, the likelihood of a favorable outcome, and any potential challenges or obstacles you may face.
- Availability – Be sure to ask the lawyer if they have the time and resources to devote to your case. A lawyer with too many cases may not be able to give your claim the attention it deserves, which could impact the outcome.
- Fee structure – Workers’ compensation attorneys typically represent clients on a contingency basis, meaning they only get paid if they secure benefits. Ask about their contingency fee percentage and any additional costs or expenses you might be responsible for, such as filing fees or expert witness fees.
- Communication – Choose an attorney who is approachable, responsive, and communicates clearly. You should feel comfortable discussing your case and asking questions. Effective communication is vital to ensure you understand the process and stay informed throughout your claim.
During the initial consultation, use this opportunity to interview the attorney and gauge whether they are the right fit for you and your case. You might also want to ask for references from previous clients and check online reviews to learn about other clients’ experiences.
By considering these factors and asking the right questions, you can confidently choose a workers’ compensation attorney who will represent your best interests and help you navigate the complexities of your claim.
How Can the Noll Law Office Help Me?
The Carlinville worker’s compensation lawyers at the Noll Law Office are fifth-generation attorneys who are committed to securing positive outcomes for workers who’ve been injured in their community. There is no fee to speak with them about your workers’ compensation claim, and if they take your case, they will seek the maximum amount of benefits available to you. Call the Noll Law Office at (217) 414-8889 or fill out a contact form today.