Recently our associate, Margie Komes, published an article in a local periodical to help explain to the general public some of the basic principals of worker’s compensation claims in Illinois. Margie had extensive experience managing a large worker’s compensation practice in the suburbs prior to attending law school, and fortunately for us, clerking for our firm and then joining the firm upon graduation from law school. We thought you might enjoy her insights and they are reprinted below:
Workers’ Compensation 101
Often people pursuing a claim for an injury that has occurred at work first turn to family and friends for advice. That advice is not always correct. Here are some worker’s compensation basics to keep in mind moving forward in this new year.
1. Workers’ compensation attorneys are paid on a contingency fee basis. The attorneys do not get paid unless the case is won. There is no fee for a workers’ compensation attorney to review a case.
2. All businesses in Illinois are required by law to carry workers’ compensation insurance.
3. Most workers in Illinois are covered under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. There are exceptions to this coverage. The main exceptions are Federal employees and farmworkers.
4. Independent contractors are not covered by Illinois workers’ compensation. However, just because an employee is labeled an independent contractor by an employer, it does not mean the employee is not covered.
5. An employee hired in Illinois but working in another state at the time of injury is covered.
6. An employee already clocked out from the job may be covered. An attorney versed in the workers’ compensation law will know who is covered and who is not covered.
7. The same holds true for an employee who is injured while on drugs or drunk at the time of the injury. The employer will deny coverage, but this can be appealed if intoxication was not the cause of the injury.
8. As with other types of cases, there is a statute of limitations for workers’ compensation cases. Typically workers’ compensation case must be filed within three years of the date of injury. There are exceptions to this statute including repetitive trauma injuries such as carpal tunnel. It is best to hire an attorney immediately in order to determine the rights and benefits the employee is entitled to receive.
9. Do not give a recorded statement.
10. Do not post anything related to your injury on social media and do not accept friend requests from unknown individuals. It is best to stay off social media for the duration of the case.
11. Seek treatment immediately following an injury. An injured worker has the right to choose his or her treating doctor. There are guidelines for how many doctors an injured employee can treat with so it is important to seek the advice of an attorney to make sure treatment is in compliance with the workers’ compensation statute.
12. An employer has the right to send an injured worker to a doctor for an exam.
13. The employer may hire a nurse case manager. The nurse case manager should not talk to the doctor without the injured worker present nor should the nurse case manager interfere with the care of the injured worker.
14. An employer cannot fire an injured worker for filing a workers’ compensation claim.
15. A workers’ compensation case will not be settled until treatment is concluded and an injured worker reaches maximum medical improvement.
16. The value of a case is determined based on many factors. There is no set value to a case and no two cases are exactly alike.
17. A case is not closed until a settlement agreement is signed or if the injured worker waits too long to file.
If you suffer an on the job injury, seek the advice of an attorney versed in the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. If you or anyone you know has suffered an injury while at work, the attorneys at Turner Law Group LLC will answer any questions you may have regarding workers’ compensation.