If you have been injured at work, not only are you probably in pain, but you may also start to worry about what happens next. Will I have to take time off from work? How will I earn a living? Who pays for my medical bills?
Navigating a work injury can be complicated, especially if you are not familiar with Illinois’s workers’ compensation laws. Often injured employees think they are getting workers’ compensation but, in fact, receive an unfair, watered-down version of their benefits. For this reason, it is important to consult an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who can help to ensure that you obtain the full and fair recovery to which you are entitled.
What Is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a system of benefits provided by Illinois law to most employees who experience work-related injuries or occupational diseases. Generally, these benefits are paid regardless of who was at fault for the accident. Put simply, workers’ compensation is a way for injured employees to get money for work injuries without filing a lawsuit.
Instead, the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission acts as an impartial administrative court system and resolves disputed workers’ compensation claims between injured employees and employers.
What Injuries Are Covered?
The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act covers all job-related injuries, including:
• Injuries caused by the repetitive use of a body part at work;
• A stroke or heart attack caused by work;
• Other physical problems caused by work; and
• Pre-existing conditions made worse by work.
In order to protect your rights, it is important that you notify your employer of a work injury as soon as possible, but no later than 45 days after the accident.
What Medical Benefits Are Covered?
Workers’ compensation pays for all medical care that is reasonably necessary to heal from a work injury. Additionally, workers’ compensation includes benefits if you are:
• Off work recovering from an injury, known as Temporary Total Disability (TTD);
• At work on light duty while recovering from an injury, known as Temporary Partial Disability (TPD);
• Permanently disabled or disfigured but can still work, known as Permanent Partial Disability (PPD); or
• Made permanently unable to work, known as Permanent Total Disability (PTD).
Who Pays For My Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
By law, employers must pay for the cost of your workers’ compensation benefits either by buying workers’ compensation insurance or getting permission to self-insure. In other words, your employer cannot charge you for any part of the insurance premium or benefits.
Who Chooses My Medical Provider?
Generally speaking, the employee may choose the doctor or hospital where he or she receives treatment. However, if your employer has joined a Preferred Provider Program (PPP), your choice of provider will be limited to two physicians who are part of this selected network. If your employer does not have a PPP, then you can choose to go to any two medical providers.
It is also possible for your employer to order that you be examined by their own doctor. If this is the case, your employer must give you money to cover the cost of the exam and it must be at a time and place that is reasonably convenient for you. But keep in mind: you do NOT, under any circumstances, have to accept treatment from your employer’s doctor.
Protecting Your Legal Rights
When dealing with the ramifications of a work injury, it is important to have workers’ compensation attorneys who are aware of current Illinois law on your issues and who will take the time to discuss them with you. At Kurasch & Klein, Ltd., we encourage you to call your lawyer at any time with questions about the law and about your case. We will explain the law, take the time to answer calls, and fight for your rights. With over 70 years of combined experience, our workers’ compensation lawyers can provide you with the experienced representation you need.
Let us fight for your rights, so you can focus on recovering from your injury with the peace of mind of knowing that you will get the benefits you deserve.