Are you an Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) worker? Did you recently suffer a work-related injury or illness? If so, you could be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits that cover your medical expenses, a portion of lost income, and more.
Illinois workers’ compensation laws, enacted in 1912 following tragedies like the 1909 Cherry coal mine fire, are designed to protect workers like you. And the Springfield workers’ comp lawyers at the Noll Law Office are here to protect you, too. They can defend your rights and handle every aspect of your workers’ comp claim while you focus on getting better.
You deserve the benefits you’re entitled to under the law. Let the Noll Law Office help you pursue them. Contact them today at 217-414-8889 for a free consultation session with an IDOC workers’ compensation lawyer in Illinois.
Eligibility Criteria for IDOC Employees
Most employees in Illinois, including IDOC employees, are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits from the moment they start their jobs, provided they are hired, injured, or working primarily in Illinois. Eligible employees can claim benefits for conditions that arise out of and in the course of employment. This includes any injury or illness resulting wholly or partly from the employee’s work.
There are, however, specific responsibilities that employees must uphold to maintain their eligibility for benefits. To start, employees must seek first aid or medical attention immediately following an injury or as soon as they notice symptoms impacting their work or home activities. Delaying medical attention could complicate a worker’s compensation claim.
Employees must also cooperate with their medical providers and actively strive to recover fully and return to work if possible. Participating in activities that could delay or harm recovery could disqualify an employee from collecting benefits.
Understanding Your Workers’ Comp Rights as an IDOC Employee
As an IDOC employee in Illinois, you have the following rights under the workers’ compensation system:
- Right to medical care– You have the right to necessary medical care for a work-related injury or illness. Your employer is responsible for covering these costs pursuant to a “medical fee schedule.”
- Right to choose your own doctor– You usually have the right to choose up to two doctors for the treatment of an occupational injury or illness. If your employer has a Preferred Provider Program (PPP) for workers’ compensation, selecting a provider within the PPP counts as one choice, while selecting an external provider counts as two. First aid and emergency care do not count as selections.
- Right to refuse inappropriate work– If you’ve been injured and can’t perform your normal duties, you have the right to refuse any work that is outside the work restrictions your medical provider has dictated.
- Right to file a claim– You have the right to file a claim for workers’ comp benefits without fear of retaliation. It’s illegal for an employer to retaliate against you for filing a workers’ comp claim.
Common IDOC Employee Injuries and Their Long-Term Consequences
Correctional officers are exposed to numerous occupational risks on a daily basis. Here are some of the most common workplace injuries and illnesses that affect IDOC employees, along with some of their potential long-term consequences:
- Physical assault injuries– Physical altercations with inmates can result in injuries like fractures, lacerations, contusions, and concussions. Possible long-term effects can include chronic pain, reduced mobility, physical disability, traumatic brain injuries, and psychological trauma.
- Slips, trips, and falls– Moving items in the prison setting often leads to slips, trips, or falls. These commonly lead to knee injuries, sprained ankles, and sometimes fractures that require surgical repair.
- Exposure to infectious diseases– Due to close quarters and frequent physical contact, IDOC officers are at risk for exposure to communicable diseases like hepatitis, tuberculosis, and COVID-19. Long-term consequences can range from chronic health conditions to fatal diseases.
Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Illinois
If you get hurt or sick on the job in Illinois, you have a right to seek compensation by filing a workers’ comp claim. You must report your condition to your employer and file key claim paperwork to do so. The State of Illinois often uses very specific forms to process workers compensation claims.
Reporting the Injury or Exposure
If you’re injured at work or exposed to a harmful substance or environment, you should inform your employer as soon as possible. Your notice should include the approximate date and place of the accident. Preparing a written notice and keeping a copy for your records is best.
You should notify your employer within 45 days of the accident or 90 days of radiological exposure. You should provide notice of occupational diseases as soon as you become aware of the condition.
Filing a Claim with the Commission
To start your claim with the IWCC, you must an Application for Adjustment of Claim with the Illinois Compfile system. You’ll also need to file and mail a Proof of Service stating that you gave your employer a copy of the application.
Usually, you must file within three years after occupational injury, death, or disablement or within two years of your last TTD or medical bill payment, whichever is later.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits for IDOC Workers
As an IDOC employee, you are entitled to several categories of benefits that provide financial assistance and necessary services following a work-related injury or illness. Here’s an overview of these benefits:
- Medical care benefits– You are entitled to reasonable medical care required to cure or relieve the effects of the injury. Your employer will pay medical providers directly, with no copayments or deductibles needed from you, unless the service is covered under a group health plan.
- Temporary total disability (TTD) benefits– TTD benefits apply while you are off work, recovering from the injury. These benefits are not available for your first three days off unless you miss 3 or more calendar days of work. They are usually calculated as two-thirds of your average weekly wage (there are some exceptions), and you can collect them until you return to work or reach maximum medical improvement (MMI).
- Temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits– TPD benefits apply while you are recovering from the injury but can work light duty for less compensation. These benefits are two-thirds of the difference between your pre-injury average weekly wage and the wage you earn in the light-duty job. They are available until you return to regular duty or reach MMI.
- Vocational rehabilitation and maintenance benefits– These are available if you participate in an approved vocational rehabilitation program. This could include counseling for job searches, supervised job search programs, and vocational retraining. Your maintenance benefit during this program is generally equal to your TTD rate.
- Permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits– PPD benefits are available if you sustain permanent disability or disfigurement but can still work to some degree. There are three types of PPD benefits, including scheduled injury payments, non-scheduled injury payments, and disfigurement benefits.
- Wage differential benefits– These benefits are like TPD benefits, but you become eligible for them once you’ve reached MMI and have obtained your post-injury job. This benefit pays you two-thirds of the difference between your pre-injury average weekly wage and your current wage.
- Permanent total disability (PTD) benefits– PTD benefits could apply if you are permanently unable to work. These weekly benefits are worth up to two-thirds of your average weekly wage and could be available for life.
- Death benefits– These benefits are for surviving family members. They include burial payments and survivors’ benefits, worth up to two-thirds of the deceased employee’s gross average weekly wage.
What Happens If Your Workers’ Comp Claim Is Denied?
You can dispute the decision if your workers’ compensation claim is denied in Illinois by filing a Section 19(b) or Section 19(b-1) petition to get an emergency hearing before an arbitrator. Once a trial date has been set, the arbitrator will determine whether you’re entitled to benefits. The arbitrator must issue a decision within 60 days.
If dissatisfied with the arbitrator’s decision, both you and your employer have the right to appeal. If you pursue an appeal, a panel of three commissioners will review the arbitrator’s decision. After hearing both sides, the Commission must generally decide within 60 days.
The Commission’s decision is final for employees of the State of Illinois, including IDOC workers. For all other employees, the decision can be appealed further. But, for state employees, once the Arbitrator and Commission have ruled, no further appeal to a higher court is possible.
Since you have only one level of appeal as a state employee, working with a skilled workers’ comp lawyer for correctional officers might mean the difference between a successful appeal and a final denial. An attorney’s help increases your chances of a favorable outcome in a disputed workers’ compensation claim.
How Can The Noll Law Office Help?
The Noll Law Office is well-positioned to handle your IDOC workers’ comp claim and support you as you recover. With a history that dates back to 1842, they have established themselves as a premier law firm in central Illinois. Their commitment to high-quality legal services is demonstrated by their aggressive advocacy, transparent communication style, and genuine compassion for clients’ needs.
Unlike at larger firms, where you might only meet paralegals or attorneys fresh out of law school, you have direct access to experienced local attorneys at the Noll Law Office. From your free initial consultation and throughout your case, you can count on the clear, consistent communication you need to make informed choices.
Get in Touch with a IDOC Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Springfield Now
If you’re an IDOC worker struggling to claim workers’ compensation benefits, it’s time to turn to the professionals. The Noll Law Office is ready to advocate aggressively for your rights. Get started with your free case review with an IDOC workers’ comp lawyer in Springfield by calling them at (217) 414-8889.