Springfield Illinois Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
Workers’ compensation is a “no-fault” insurance system created by the State of Illinois legislature through the Illinois Workers Compensation Act (IWCA). Under the IWCA, most employers in this state must carry workers’ compensation insurance. While working for their employer, the insurance covers situations in which an employee is injured while working within the scope of their employment. Employers who fail to have workers’ compensation insurance can face severe financial penalties under Illinois law.
The system is beneficial for everyone. By carrying workers’ compensation insurance, employers are protected from having to pay employees’ medical bills or off-work disability wages out of pocket. In addition, employers cannot be sued privately by employees for work injuries. The employees benefit because they have workers’ compensation insurance to cover their medical bills and disability wages while they are off work following an injury. And, of course, workers’ compensation insurance companies benefit because the overwhelming majority of employees are not injured and, therefore, the companies usually receive millions and millions of dollars in profit each year.
To be covered by workers’ compensation insurance, an employer/employee relationship must exist. Coverage begins as soon as a new employee is hired. There are very limited exceptions. While certain employers may be allowed to opt out of workers’ compensation insurance, employers in “extra hazardous” fields may not. Under the IWCA, the following fields are considered extra hazardous:
- Demolition work
- Excavation work
- Construction work
- Electrical work
- Any job that includes the use of explosives
- Jobs that use sharp-edged cutting tools or grinders
- Warehouse work
- Businesses that use electric, gasoline, or other types of power-driven equipment
Other dangerous occupations, such as police, firefighters, correctional officers, and EMTs, are prone to work injuries. If you were injured on the job, having an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can make a difference in the outcome of your claim. Noll Law Office attorneys are familiar with workers’ compensation practices and procedures. Understanding the rules in workers’ compensation combined with our litigation experience makes the Noll Law Office a powerful ally in obtaining the maximum benefits for an injured worker.
Statistics on Illinois Workers’ Compensation
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Illinois private industry employers reported 106,900 non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2020. Health services and education industries were at the high end of workplace injury claims. The financial services industry was at the other end, with the lowest rate of workplace injury claims. Of the 106,900 private industry and illness cases reported, 74,100 were considered severe (serious injuries that caused time away from work and required considerable medical treatment). Among state and local government employers, more than 21,500 injury and illness cases were reported in 2020.
What is the Claims Process for Illinois Workers’ Compensation?
Essentially, if you have experienced a workplace injury in Illinois, you should do the following:
- Notify your employer immediately, and if you can, provide the notification in writing;
- Seek immediate medical care, and follow up as needed to obtain the treatment you need;
- Make sure that you obtain referrals from your primary care doctor to seek specialist examinations as needed;
- Keep copies of any off-work slips or work restrictions that you are placed on by your doctor so that your employer knows you have a bona fide work injury that requires you to heal;
- Provide confirmation of your medical treatment to the applicable workers’ compensation company to ensure that your medical bills are paid in a timely manner.
While you have 45 days from the date of your injury to notify your employer, it is best to do so in writing as soon as possible. This ensures there is a “paper trail” concerning your injury. Exceeding this 45-day period could result in an inability to receive WC benefits. If your claim is for a slow-developing, repetitive trauma type of injury, you should notify your employer as soon as you discover the condition. If you are not sure whether your injury is a “repetitive trauma” type of injury, you should ask your physician and notify your employer in order to avoid losing your coverage. There is some very case-specific law in these situations that the Noll Law Office can assist you with.
Once your employer has been notified of the injury, a claim will be opened with the company’s workers’ compensation claim. From the time you notify your employer, they have 30 days to file an accident report with the IWCC.
If you properly notify your employer within 45 days, you then typically have three years from the date of your injury to file a claim for benefits. You may be entitled to receive:
- Payment of your medical bills in accordance with the medical fee schedule;
- Temporary disability benefits, which are a type of disability wage paid while you are off work due to your work injury; and,
- Permanent disability benefits for any partial but permanent loss of function or use of your body.
Could My Employer Refuse to File My Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Common reasons that an employer could refuse to file your claim include:
- You exceeded the time limit that you had to file your claim;
- You did not have a work injury or accident; and,
- Your injury did not occur during the scope of employment.
What Are the Most Common Missteps Made When Applying for Workers’ Compensation?
The number one misstep made in Illinois workers’ compensation cases is failing to promptly report your injury to your employer. Some employees may report their injury to their doctor, thinking that is sufficient. You must report your injury to your employer within 45 days. Other common missteps include:
- “Doctor jumping” between various medical providers without obtaining the necessary referrals for care;
- Not seeking medical treatment in hopes that your symptoms will just “go away;” and,
- Believing you don’t have a valid workers’ compensation claim because you have a pre-existing condition (a pre-existing condition that is aggravated by a workplace injury or illness is eligible for coverage).
What Should I Do if I’m Suffering from a Workplace Injury?
If you are suffering from an Illinois workplace injury, you should notify your employer and seek medical care. It’s beneficial to consult a workers’ compensation lawyer from an experienced injury firm like the Noll Law Office in order to obtain legal advice that is specific to your case. The Noll Law Office attorneys will aggressively pursue a workers’ compensation claim on your behalf. They know how to take effective physician depositions, medical records reviews, and subpoena evidence in order to fight for your coverage. The Noll Law Office is family-owned and operated and will work with you directly throughout the process. Contact their attorneys today at no expense to learn how we can help.
How Do I Choose the Best Workers’ Compensation Lawyer for Me?
Choosing the best workers’ compensation lawyer can be a daunting proposition. Ask your attorney how many workers’ compensation cases they have handled over the years and how many they take to arbitration. Ask your attorneys if they are comfortable with taking physician’s depositions and if they understand the technicalities of workers’ compensation law. You want an attorney who is willing to travel to obtain the evidence and hearing dates necessary to aggressively pursue your case.
How Can the Noll Law Office Help Me?
The Noll Law Office is comprised of fifth-generation Springfield attorneys that help achieve positive outcomes for their community members. It is always free to talk to us regarding your workers’ compensation claim. We will fight for the maximum amount of benefits you are entitled to receive. Contact the Noll Law Office today.