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Workers' Compensation FAQ

What Should I Do If I Was Injured at Work?

If you were hurt at work, you need to let your employer know what happened within 45 days of the accident or your claim may be denied. While this can be done orally or in writing, writing is always preferable in case there is a dispute later as to whether notice was given. Include the date, time and location of the accident. Obtain the names and contact information of anyone who witnessed the accident in case of a dispute over what occurred.

Seek medical treatment as soon as possible after notifying your employer. Make certain that you let the first doctor that you see know precisely how the injury occurred. Medical documentation of the treatment and injury as well as its connection to the injury will be necessary in order to prove your case.

Your next step should be to call a Chicago workers’ comp lawyer! It is very important to have a workers’ comp lawyer assist you as soon as possible. Oftentimes, your employer may appear to be acting in your best interest when they are really not. An example of this is that they refer you to a doctor of their choosing who minimizes your injury. This will cause problems in proving your case or maximizing its value. Having an experienced workers’ compensation attorney on your side from the start is important to help you avoid some of these early pitfalls.

Our skilled workers’ comp attorneys help clients throughout the Chicago area including Cook County, Lake County and DuPage County.

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What If the Injury Was My Fault?

In Illinois, The Workers’ Compensation Act is a “no-fault” law. Therefore, you are legally entitled to benefits under the Workers’ Compensation Act for injuries that “arise out of and in the course of employment,” even if the work accident which led to your injury may have been your fault, with some limited exceptions. An experienced Chicago workers’ comp attorney can help you determine if your case is compensable. Do not let your employer tell you that you can’t file a claim because your actions contributed to your injury!

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How Do I Start My Claim?

Filing an “Application for Adjustment of Claim” is the first step to bringing a case before the Workers’ Compensation Commission. Generally, a claim must be filed within 3-years of the date of the accident.

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What Kind of Compensation or Payments Can I Get If I File a Workers’ Compensation Case?

Under the Illinois Workmans’ Compensation Act there are several different types of benefits you may be eligible for including the following:

  • Temporary Total Disability Benefits (“TTD”) : You are entitled to be paid from the time of your accident until you are medically released to return to work. This would include any time you need to allow you to complete necessary physical therapy and, if necessary, recover from surgery until you have reached “maximum medical improvement” as determined by your doctor. Your temporary disability payments equal 2/3 of your average weekly wage, which is defined by the law.
  • Medical Expenses : Your employer is required to pay for medical expenses for treatments that you receive as the result of your injury. In most cases, you have a right to choose your own doctor and you do not have to submit to treatment by a doctor your employer (or its insurance company) wants you to see. Your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company pays for your treatment and you are not required to pay any out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Permanent Partial Disability (“PPD”) : After you have reached “maximum medical improvement” you have a right to collect for any permanent disability you may have suffered as a result of your accident. Almost all injuries have some form of permanent partial disability you will have to live with in the future. If you continue to suffer some disability after your medical treatment, surgery, physical therapy, or any other treatment, you can collect a permanent partial settlement award. This may either be in the form of weekly payments over a period of time or in the form of a “lump sum” settlement. Figuring out the permanent partial nature of an injury is a very complex analysis and a workers’ compensation lawyer is essential to maximize your benefits.
  • Wage Differential : Wage differential is a type of different type of permanent partial disability. Let’s say you are 47 years old and you work in a job where you make $50,000. Your employment requires you to be able to lift 50 lbs on a regular basis. After your injury, your condition improves to where you can lift only 30 lbs on an occasional basis. Your employer cannot require that you return you to work without a weight restriction and, as a result, you need to find a different job. The only job you can find within these restrictions is one making $30,000 a year. As a result you have suffered a $20,000 reduction in wages (or wage differential). You are therefore entitled to 2/3 of that differential until you reach the age of 67 years old (a total of $264,000). Under the law, this sum can be paid in weekly payments or in the form of a lump sum at the “present cash value” of $264,000 paid out over 20 years. These types of negotiations are very complex and require a skilled workers’ comp lawyer to negotiate to maximize your recovery.
  • Permanent Total Disability : If your injury is serious enough where you cannot return to work, you are entitled to Permanent Total Disability. Let’s say you are 47 years old and make $90,000 per year but you suffered an injury so where you are unable to find any stable employment. In this scenario, you are entitled to 2/3 of $90,000 or $60,000 per year FOR LIFE. This is distinguishable from a wage differential, where benefits are capped at age 67. It is important to note, whether you are entitled to any of the above benefits, you need an experienced Chicago workers’ compensation attorney to help you determine whether or not to take your case to hearing or settle for a lump sum.

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What If My Employer Won’t Pay Anything?

A workers' comp attorney can help you get workers’ compensation benefits started. Often, dealing with an employer or their insurance company can be difficult. But once an experienced work injury attorney gets involved, they will usually be able to get the benefits started. Sometimes your employer needs the pressure of going before the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission to know that you are serious about your claim. Once they see that this is the case, the employer oftentimes will consent to benefits without a fight. If they continue to dispute benefits, an experienced workers’ compensation attorney will know how to get your case before an arbitrator on an expedited basis by filing a “Petition for Immediate Hearing.”

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What if the Insurance Company Won't Pay?

Insurance companies will often deny benefits that are owed to an injured worker, especially one that is not represented by an attorney. They will give you all kinds of reasons why they won't pay. They will tell you that they didn't receive proper notice. They will tell you that your injury isn't work-related. They will tell you that your injury is due to a pre-existing condition. Sometimes they just ignore you and are non-responsive.

An experienced workers' compensation lawyer knows how to get the attention of the insurance company and how to make sure that they do not ignore your legitimate claim. A workers' comp lawyer knows how to have penalties levied against your employer or your employer's insurance company if they continue to if they act in bad faith or ignore your claim. Do not allow yourself to be pushed around or taken advantage of by an insurance company. Insurance companies do not represent your interests. They only represent their own interests and the interests of your employer. Contact an experienced workers' comp lawyer immediately after your injury to protect your interests and make certain that you receive the benefits that you are entitled to.

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Can I Be Fired for Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim?

An employer that terminates an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim can be sued for “retaliatory discharge.” This is a separate course of action and requires a skilled attorney to pursue.

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Why Should I Hire a Workers' Compensation Lawyer?

An experienced Illinois workers' compensation attorney will ensure that your case is handled properly in order to achieve the best possible result. Workers' compensation cases can be complex and there are many pitfalls unless you have an experienced attorney representing and protecting your interests. You can be sure that insurance companies have skilled attorneys working on their behalf and you deserve professional legal representation.

Employers and their insurance companies will try from the very beginning to limit the amount of money that they have to pay you. Some employers will even make the workplace difficult for a person that was injured at work. A lawyer will know how to navigate these issues. An experienced workers' comp lawyer will know how to make certain that your interests are protected regardless of whether you have been medically cleared to return to work. A workmans' compensation attorney will know how to give proper notice and to make certain that your medical condition is properly documented from the very start.

It is crucial to have an experienced workers' compensation lawyer on your side as soon as you are injured. Insurance companies like to act like they are on your side so that you won't hire a lawyer. Sometimes they will even try to put pressure on an injured worker not to talk to a lawyer about their injury. Do not fall into this trap. In such cases, their goal is usually to avoid paying you or to pay you as little as possible.

Our workers' compensation attorneys will guide you through the process from start to finish. From building your case by helping compile the necessary evidence all the way through negotiations with the insurance company, we are here to help. If a favorable settlement agreement cannot be reached, and it is ultimately in your best interest, our Chicago workers' comp lawyers are also prepared to represent you at a hearing or trial. We practice throughout the Chicago area including Cook County, Lake County and DuPage County. Contact The Davis Law Group, P.C. today for a free consultation at (847) 390-8500.

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Typically, a workers' comp lawyer gets paid when the case is settled. In a typical workers' compensation case, a lawyer is paid 20% of any settlement. You will not pay any out-of-pocket expenses to hire a workers' compensation lawyer. A workers' comp lawyer will enter into a fee agreement with you that must be filed with the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission. There are no up front costs and any reputable workers' compensation lawyer will also pay any expenses necessary to prosecute your case.

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