Have you been injured on the job as a medical worker in Illinois? The repercussions of a workplace injury can be severe, leaving you grappling with physical pain, emotional stress, and financial instability. But you could be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits can cover your medical bills, wage losses, and more. But getting the full range of benefits you are due is easier said than done.
The good news is that you don’t have to go through this alone. The Noll Law Office is a staunch advocate for injured workers like you. Serving Springfield and Central Illinois since 1948, this family-owned firm combines compassion with aggressive representation and isn’t afraid to stand up to insurance companies to uphold your rights.
Don’t hesitate to contact The Noll Law Office if you have a workers’ compensation claim in Illinois. Reach out today by calling (217) 414-8889 or reach out online for a free consultation to learn how they can make a difference from day one.
Eligibility Criteria for Medical Workers
The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act was established to ensure workers have access to specific benefits if they sustain work-related injuries or illnesses. This system is a no-fault insurance program, meaning injured employees do not need to prove their employers were negligent to claim benefits. In exchange, workers give up the right to sue their employers for work-related injuries outside of specific, rare exceptions.
Employer Coverage Requirements
In Illinois, any employer with one or more regular employees must usually provide workers’ compensation insurance, regardless of the type of business. This includes private businesses, public entities, and even out-of-state businesses with employees operating within Illinois. There are limited exceptions for certain employers, such as sole proprietors or partnerships.
Employee Status Requirements
Most employees in Illinois are covered by the Workers’ Comp Act, including part-time and seasonal workers. However, there are a few exceptions. For example, independent contractors, some agricultural workers, and certain domestic workers might not be covered. It’s essential to understand your employment status as a medical worker, as misclassification as an independent contractor could affect your eligibility for benefits.
An injury or illness must arise out of or in the course of their work to qualify for workers’ compensation coverage. This includes accidental injuries, repetitive strain injuries, and illnesses arising from work-related conditions.
Not every injury sustained at the workplace is automatically eligible for benefits. For instance, injuries resulting from an employee’s intoxication or horseplay usually do not qualify. Furthermore, injuries that happen while commuting to or from work typically don’t qualify unless the travel is directly related to the employee’s job (like traveling between job sites).
Understanding Your Workers’ Comp Rights as a Healthcare Employee
Here’s what you need to know about your workers’ comp rights as a healthcare worker in Illinois if you get hurt or sick on the job.
The Right to Compensation
As a healthcare employee in Illinois, one of the most important rights you have under state law is the right to receive benefits for work-related injuries or illnesses. This includes benefits that cover all reasonable and necessary medical costs, replace a portion of lost wages, and compensate you for permanent disabilities.
The Right to Choose Your Doctor
In Illinois, injured workers have the right to choose up to two of their own medical providers. However, some employers have preferred provider programs (PPP). If your employer has a PPP, the doctor from the PPP usually counts as one of your two choices of providers.
The Right to Return to Work
Once your treating physician has determined that you can return to work, they will provide you with a return-to-work slip. Sometimes, they might approve your return to work with certain restrictions which your employer usually must accommodate or provide temporary total disability benefits.
If you can return to your original job duties, you should be allowed to return to your usual position. If you cannot perform your previous duties, your employer might terminate your position after several months have passed. This is a nuanced area of caselaw and you should work closely with an attorney if you may not be able to return to your prior position. There are options available to investigate, such as requesting FMLA protections, applying for unemployment, or submitting a claim for vocational rehabilitation.
The Right to Appeal
If your workers’ compensation claim is denied or you believe the benefits you are awarded are insufficient, your attorney can submit a request for arbitration with the Illinois Workers Compensation Commission. This is a binding arbitration in which you can submit your evidence to an arbitrator, who will determine whether or not you are entitled to benefits. Once the decision is rendered, either the employer or you may file an appeal. It’s highly recommended to have legal representation during this process, given its complexity and the importance of presenting a compelling case.
The Right to Protection Against Retaliation
Illinois law protects workers from retaliation by their employers for filing workers’ compensation claims. This means your employer is prohibited from firing (the caselaw is highly nuanced), you for seeking the benefits you’re entitled to. If your employer subjects you to unlawful retaliation for filing a workers’ comp claim, a knowledgeable lawyer can help you file a lawsuit for retaliatory discharge.
Common Medical Worker Injuries and Their Long-Term Consequences
Medical professionals work in environments fraught with potential hazards. From sharp instruments and biohazard exposures to long hours on their feet, medical workers can get hurt or sick in countless ways. While some minor injuries heal quickly, others can have long-term repercussions. Here are some common examples of the long-term consequences of occupational injuries affecting medical workers:
- Spinal pain from lifting, repositioning, and otherwise caring for patients;
- Knee injuries from falls;
- Hospital-acquired Covid-19 and other infectious diseases;
It is common for medical workers to be the victims of battery, often from violence stemming from dementia patients, intoxicated patients, or mentally ill patients. Simply stated, working in the medical field is hard on the body.
Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Illinois
If you suffer a work-related injury or illness in Illinois, you’ll want to know the steps involved in filing a workers’ compensation claim. Here’s what you’ll need to do:
- Seek Medical Attention: Seek medical treatment as soon as possible following your injury or upon realizing you have a work-related illness. Prioritize your health above all else. Remember to inform your healthcare provider that your injury is work-related.
- Notify Your Employer: Promptly inform your employer of the injury or illness. In Illinois, you have 45 days from the date of the injury to notify your employer. Failure to do so within this timeframe can result in a denial of benefits.
- Document Everything: Keep detailed records of your injury, medical treatments, and any correspondence or discussions with your employer regarding your injury or illness.
- File with the IWCC: If your employer refuses to provide benefits or a dispute arises, you can file a claim with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC). You have three years from the injury date or two years from your last compensation payment, whichever is later, to file.
- Consult an Attorney: Considering the complexities of workers’ compensation law and the importance of securing full benefits, it’s wise to hire an experienced workers’ comp attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can handle the entire claims process on your behalf, complete all paperwork correctly and on time, and represent you in any hearings or disputes.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Medical Workers
The workers’ compensation system in Illinois offers a range of benefits designed to alleviate medical costs, income reductions, and other financial losses resulting from work-related conditions:
- Medical Benefits: These cover all reasonable first aid, medical and surgical services, prescriptions, and hospital services necessary to treat a work-related injury or illness.
- Temporary Total Disability (TTD) Benefits: Injured workers can claim TTD benefits when they are temporarily unable to return to work. These benefits are typically calculated as two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly wage (AWW) from before the injury.
- Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) Benefits: For employees who can return to work but at a limited capacity or reduced wages, TPD benefits make up for the difference in their earnings. These benefits are usually paid at a rate of two-thirds of the difference between the worker’s pre-injury and post-injury income.
- Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) Benefits: If a work injury results in a permanent but partial loss of function, employees could receive PPD benefits. The amount and duration of these benefits vary depending on the specific injury, its location on the body, and its long-term impact.
- Permanent Total Disability (PTD) Benefits: PTD benefits are for severe cases where an employee is rendered permanently unable to work due to their injury. In some cases, PTD benefits even provide lifelong compensation, typically at two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly wage.
- Wage Differential Benefits: If an injury causes an employee to switch to a lower-paying job, they could claim benefits to address the wage difference between their previous and current roles.
- Job Retraining Benefits: These benefits are for workers whose injuries prevent them from returning to their previous jobs. They cover the costs of vocational training or job retraining to help employees reintegrate into the workforce in new capacities.
- Death Benefits: If a work-related injury or illness results in the unfortunate death of an employee, death benefits provide financial support to the deceased’s dependents. This typically includes compensation for burial expenses and a portion of the deceased’s earnings.
What Happens If Your Workers’ Comp Claim Is Denied?
Receiving a partial or total denial for your workers’ comp claim can be disheartening, but it doesn’t have to be the end of the road. Illinois law allows you to pursue several levels of appeal if you disagree with a determination, including:
- Arbitration Hearings: This is the first stage of the appeals process. You can request an arbitration hearing if you cannot resolve your claim after filing with the IWCC. Both parties have opportunities to present evidence, including medical records, expert testimony, and pertinent documents. An arbitrator, akin to a judge, presides over this hearing and bases their decision on the available evidence.
- IWCC Reviews: If the outcome at the arbitration level is unsatisfactory, your next option is to petition for a review by a panel of three IWCC commissioners. This panel examines the arbitrator’s decision in light of the available evidence and ensures that the decision aligns with established legal norms.
- Higher Court Appeals: If you disagree with the IWCC’s decision, you can further appeal your case through Illinois’s judicial system. This begins with an appeal to the circuit court of the county where you live or got hurt. If you are unsatisfied with the circuit court’s ruling, you can escalate to an appellate court or even the Illinois Supreme Court.
Appealing a denied workers’ compensation claim is no easy task. It involves copious paperwork, strict deadlines, and numerous legal requirements. If you are considering filing an appeal, it’s best to work with a knowledgeable attorney who can protect your rights and keep your claim on track.
How Can The Noll Law Office Help?
The seasoned workers’ compensation lawyers at The Noll Law Office can harness their extensive knowledge and experience to advocate for your rights and recover the benefits you are due. Here are just a few of the ways they can help:
- Reviewing your medical records and investigating the circumstances of your work injury
- Calculating the full extent of your benefits, considering both current and future needs
- Preparing all necessary claim paperwork and filing it promptly
- Identifying any potential third-party claims or additional sources of compensation
- Collecting supporting evidence, including witness statements and surveillance footage
- Securing expert testimony to corroborate the extent and cause of your injuries
- Coordinating with your medical providers to obtain crucial documentation and opinions
- Communicating with employers, insurance companies, and other parties on your behalf
- Challenging any unfair medical examinations or findings by insurance companies
- Negotiating settlements with insurance companies
- Advising on the implications of accepting a settlement versus pursuing litigation
- Guiding you through the appeals process if your claim is denied
- Representing you in arbitration hearings and other legal proceedings
- Drafting clear and compelling arguments for written submissions and oral presentations
- Assisting with the logistics of vocational rehabilitation or retraining if required
- Helping you fight back against any employer retaliation due to your claim
Contact a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer for Medical Workers in Illinois Today
As a medical worker, you’ve dedicated your life to caring for others. Now it’s time for someone to take care of you. The Noll Law Office can defend your rights and demand the benefits you are due. Contact the firm today at 217.462.8089 or reach out online to discuss the specifics of your workers’ compensation claim in a free initial consultation.