Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that provides a safety net for employees who suffer a workplace injury or illness. Under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, individuals who are hurt on the job can receive several types of financial support to cover their medical expenses, lost earnings and other costs. Unlike a personal injury claim, workers can qualify for benefits regardless of being at fault for a work-related accident. However, they cannot recover compensation for damages typically awarded in a personal injury lawsuit.
Thousands of Illinois Employees Suffer Illnesses or Injuries in the Workplace Each Year
Around 200,000 workplace accidents occur in Illinois each year. The Workers’ Compensation Commission receives up to 45,000 workers’ compensation claims. In fiscal year 2018 more than 17,000 of those were filed in Chicago.
The state and local government sector recorded 26,500 nonfatal worker illnesses and injuries in 2018, while there were 110,000 reported by the state’s private employers. Of those, 62,400 cases involved employees taking days off work, transferring jobs or experiencing various restrictions. Sixty percent of incidents resulted in at least one day away from work. There were 5,100 reported cases of workplace illnesses. Skin ailments, respiratory conditions and hearing loss were the most common, accounting for over 39 percent of illnesses in the state.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 184 fatal workplace injuries in Illinois in 2018, marking a 21 percent rise from the previous year. The majority of work-related deaths — 59 percent —involved transportation accidents, followed by contact with equipment and objects.
The construction and transportation industries typically have the highest numbers of workplace injuries resulting in death. In 2017, 40 percent of workplace deaths occurred due to transportation incidents. Other leading causes were slip and fall accidents, being struck by objects or equipment, and toxic chemical exposure at 17 percent, 14 percent and 10 percent respectively.
Employers Have a Legal Duty to Provide Workers’ Compensation
All Illinois employers are required by law to have workers’ compensation insurance or become self-insured and provide benefits to injured workers. Workers’ compensation aims to give injured employees financial support as quickly as possible without the need to establish fault or file lawsuits. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act protects employees from losing their livelihood because of a job-related accident.
A workers’ compensation claim is paid when the employer and their insurance company agree that an employee suffered an illness or injury that was a direct result of their job. Unfortunately, workers’ compensation claims are not always straightforward. Although Illinois uses a no-fault workers’ compensation system, many employers and insurance companies still make it very hard for injured employees to obtain the benefits they deserve to cover medical bills and other expenses after a workplace accident. This is why having a reliable lawyer is so important. The Chicago workers’ compensation attorneys at Briskman Briskman & Greenberg understand the devastating impact a work-related injury can have on you and your loved ones. We are here to help you obtain the maximum financial support available.
Remember, filing a workers’ compensation claim should not affect your relationship with your employer nor should it cause you to lose your job. It is illegal for your employer to fire you in retaliation for getting injured at work or seeking workers’ compensation for a job-related injury or illness.
Some workers feel that they may be ineligible for workers’ compensation because they were partly at fault for their injuries. However, it is still possible to receive benefits in most cases. There are exceptions, such as if a worker suffered an accident because of being intoxicated on the job.
Types of Workers’ Compensation Benefits Available to Injured Workers
There are several different types of benefits that employees in Chicago and other parts of Illinois are entitled to under workers’ compensation laws. Depending on the severity and the nature of the injuries that an employee experiences, the benefits cover everything from medical treatment and lost income to vocational rehabilitation and permanent disability. The compensation is available during the recovery period and may continue into the future if permanent disabilities are involved. Here is a closer look at the benefits that Illinois workers may receive:
- Medical expenses:Includes full coverage for work injury-related doctor’s appointments, hospitalizations, surgeries, other forms of treatment and prescriptions. Employers and insurance companies may attempt to convince you that you are obligated to seek treatment from their chosen physician. However, injured employees have the right to choose their own doctor in most cases.Briskman Briskman & Greenberg will help protect your right to choose your preferred doctor to ensure you make the best possible recovery.
- Lost earnings: Employees who are unable to work on a temporary or permanent basis because of their workplace injury may be eligible to recover some of their lost wages until they heal. If you have no choice but to accept a lower-paying job due to being unable to resume your previous position, you may be entitled to a wage differential. This amount is two-thirds of the difference between the average weekly wage you would have earned if your accident had not occurred and your current earnings.
- Disability payments: There are several types of compensation available for both temporary and permanent disabilities resulting from a work injury. For instance, an employee who breaks bones in a workplace accident and is unable to work for several months may be eligible for temporary total disability (TTD). TTD is two-thirds of an employee’s usual paycheck. Permanent total disability payments are available for workers who suffer the most severe types of injuries that prevent them from ever working again. These benefits are payable for life.
- Vocational rehabilitation: Injured employees who are unable to carry out their regular job duties from before the injury may be entitled to vocational rehabilitation. It allows workers to retrain for a new position and continue being part of the workforce.
- Death benefits: Illinois workers’ compensation laws are also designed to help families of employees killed on the job. The deceased worker’s spouse, children and other dependents are entitled to obtain benefits to help cover funeral costs and to compensate for the long-term consequences of their loved one’s lost wages.
Common Injuries Covered Under Illinois Workers’ Compensation Laws
Workers’ compensation laws cover many different workplace injuries and illnesses. Injuries can include sprains, fractures, bruises, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, chemical and electric burns, amputations and more. At Briskman Briskman & Greenberg, we handle all types of work-related injury cases that range from what are considered minor illnesses to life-altering disabilities.
On-the-job injuries can occur in a variety of circumstances. For example, an employee may get hurt while using machinery, come into contact with hazardous chemicals, or fall off a ladder at a construction site. Negligence of other employees, supervisors or subcontractors can also lead to injuries. Below are some workplace injuries that are commonly reported in Chicago and around Illinois:
- Repetitive stress injuries: These are common in workplaces where employees are required to perform the same motion repeatedly. While carpal tunnel syndrome tends to occur in office settings, repetitive stress injuries are also reported among other workers, too. For instance, shelf stockers may suffer chronic back pain after years of lifting heavy boxes.
- Occupational illnesses: This category covers diseases that arise from hazardous work environments or workplace exposures. Some common occupational illnesses are hearing loss, respiratory diseases, skin conditions and toxic chemical poisoning. Such cases can be complex as many illnesses develop over time, unlike obvious physical injuries. An illness can be considered work-related if an employee’s existing health condition is significantly worsened by workplace conditions and is directly connected to their employment. Remember, having a pre-existing condition does not automatically make you ineligible for workers’ compensation.
- Physical injuries: There are so many types of physical injuries that can occur in the workplace. Depending on the working environment, these could range from cuts and burns to falls and traumatic head injuries. For instance, construction workers may be at risk of electrocution or injuries from equipment mishaps, while a waiter may slip on a puddle on the restaurant floor. Employees can also get hurt in explosions or fires, as well as attacks by animals or people in their workplace.
The industries with the highest percentages of workplace injuries include transportation, warehousing, agriculture and construction. Transportation accidents can occur when driving between worksites or making a delivery. Among equipment incidents, caught-in injuries due to defective machinery are common in factories and other industrial workplaces. Construction accidents can include being hit by falling objects, or falling from ladders or scaffolding.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim Against a Third Party
Injuries that occur on the job are treated differently than injuries that are unrelated to work. For instance, if you get hurt in a car accident or slip and fall in a supermarket, you may file a personal injury lawsuit to obtain compensation. Because injured workers receive workers’ compensation benefits, they usually do not have the right to sue their employer for damages related to their workplace injury. However, the worker may choose to file a personal injury lawsuit if there is a third party involved, such as the manufacturer of defective equipment.
There are many potential causes of workplace injuries such as malfunctioning machinery, motor vehicle accidents or other hazards. In cases that involve a negligent third party, injured workers may be able to obtain damages through a personal injury lawsuit in addition to receiving workers’ compensation. The third party may be the manufacturer of defective equipment or an irresponsible subcontractor who did not provide proper safety gear, for instance.
Suffered an Injury or Illness at Work? Here are Four Key Steps to Take Immediately:
If you get hurt at work, you may be in pain and feeling distressed or scared. Because workers’ compensation cases are time-sensitive, what you do in the aftermath of a workplace incident will determine whether you have a successful benefits claim or not.
- Start with notifying your employer or supervisor about your workplace injury or illness. Try to create a written report about the accident and keep a copy of it for your records. The sooner you take the necessary steps to report your injury, the faster you are likely to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Do not continue to work if you have been hurt on the job. Doing so can make your injury worse. If you have a medical emergency, call 911 for help.
- Submit an illness or injury claim form as soon as possible. Be specific and detailed with the facts of your accident. For instance, jot down witness names, the time and location of the incident. Remember to obtain a copy of the form. In fact, hold on to all documentation related to the workplace incident as it can serve as evidence later on to ensure your claim does not get denied. Be sure to fill out the form even if you have already told your employer about the incident verbally or in writing.
- Get medical treatment promptly. Any delay in seeking medical attention can impact the success of your workers’ compensation claim. Explain your injury or illness to the doctor, specifying that it occurred due to a workplace incident. Employers are likely to have a dedicated medical provider for work injury claims. However, Illinois law allows employees to choose their own doctor. Follow your doctor’s advice and be sure to obtain a written note if your injury will prevent you from returning to work.
- Discuss your case with an experienced Illinois workers’ compensation lawyer. Briskman Briskman & Greenberg offers free legal consultations to answer your questions about the benefits you may be entitled to after your workplace injury or illness. Not only will we ensure your rights are protected, but we will work hard to obtain the full compensation you deserve. Our knowledgeable lawyers will also help you determine whether you have a valid personal injury claim against a third party.
Why Do I Need a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?
Workers’ compensation laws can be complex, and the process of filing a claim involves many steps that need to be followed closely. There are also strict time limits for filing claims. Additionally, you must prove that your injury was work-related, and then the case must be settled or tried before an arbitrator.
There are many factors that determine the amount of workers’ compensation an injured employee will receive, such as the type of injury and how severe it is. While proving fault is not necessary when filing a workers’ compensation claim, you will have to demonstrate that you are injured, the injury was work-related, and that you are partially or fully disabled.
Unfortunately, filing a claim is not always a simple matter as employers and insurance companies do not always hold up their end of the bargain. Employers may dispute various details like the seriousness of an injury or the likelihood of it disrupting a worker’s ability to perform the essential tasks of their job. Like other insurers, workers’ compensation insurance companies may challenge your right to obtain benefits as they want to pay as little as possible.
Seeking legal help from an experienced Chicago workers’ compensation attorney is the best way to ensure you get the compensation you deserve. With Briskman Briskman & Greenberg by your side, you never have to worry about jeopardizing your claim for benefits. You can focus on recovering from your illness or injury while we take care of the rest. Our workers’ compensation lawyers are committed to getting you the maximum benefits you are owed.
How Briskman Briskman & Greenberg Can Help You
If you have been injured on the job in Chicago and throughout Illinois, contact our team of experienced, trusted workers’ compensation lawyers. Tell us what happened and about the seriousness of your injuries. Whether you are struggling with the filing process or your claim has been denied, we are here to help.
Call Briskman Briskman & Greenberg today to schedule your free consultation. There is no cost to speak to an attorney about your workers’ compensation case and have your questions answered.