Workers Compensation Claims

GENERAL PURPOSE AND DESIGN OF THE ILLINOIS WORKERS COMPENSATION ACT

Simply stated, the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act is a "no fault", wage replacement system designed to pay the injured worker both medical benefits and lost wages during his or her period of incapacity from work. In many cases, an injured worker is also eligible to receive permanent partial disability benefits after completion of his or her medical treatment. Further, in some instances, if a person's injury prevents him/her returning to his/her previous occupation, him/her may be entitled to vocational retraining.

Under the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act, the injured employee gives up the right to sue his/her employer in court. In return, the employee receives compensation without having to prove fault but the employer's liability is limited to benefits specified in the statute. Not surprisingly, these amounts are almost always significantly less than what might be available if employees could sue in court as there is no recovery for pain and suffering in workers' compensation claims. There are only a few situations where an injured employee is not covered by the Workers' Compensation Act and may sue an employer in the civil court system.

At first glance, a "no fault" system sounds like a fair deal to workers who are hurt and have been taken care of without having to go through a costly process of assigning blame. Unfortunately, disputes between the injured worker, his or her employer and the workers compensation insurer often arise, which undoubtedly make an already difficult situation more troublesome. Further, the existing a system is complicated and hard to understand. It has evolved into what too often becomes a bureaucratic nightmare that commonly intimidates and hinders people with valid claims. And worst of all, insurance companies often fight an employee's legitimate claim every step of the way.

The Harris & Jones Law Firm can assist you if you have been hurt on the job and ensure that you receive all benefits to which you are entitled to under the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act. If you were injured on the job, please call us today at (618) 542-8232 (DuQuoin).

THE LEGAL BENEFITS AN INJURED WORKER INVOLVED IN AN INDUSTRIAL OR WORK RELATED ACCIDENT IS ENTITLED TO RECEIVE

  • Medical Treatment - An injured employee is entitled to medical treatment, at no cost, to cure and relieve the effects of his/her work injury. The injured employee is not required to treat with a company doctor, but can seek out a doctor of his or her choice. We can assist the injured worker in finding doctors specializing in treatment, surgery, and rehabilitation. We also refer our clients to specialists and second opinions when necessary.
  • Temporary Total Disability Benefits - If a doctor finds that an injured employee is unable to work while being treated for his/her injuries, he or she may be entitled to temporary total disability benefits. The employer's Workers' Compensation insurance carrier is required to pay the injured employee up to two thirds of their salary (with established maximums depending upon the date of injury) while they are at home recuperating from their industrial injury. The Kurt E. Harris Law Firm has experience in making sure our clients get the benefits they are owed.
  • Permanent Partial Disability Benefits - Once an injured employee is released from a doctor's care, he/she may be entitled to permanent partial disability benefits. How much an injured employee will receive is determined by the part of the body that is injured, the extent of the injury, the average weekly wage the employee was earning for the 52 weeks preceding the accident and any work restrictions as determined by a medical professional. Once our clients have been released to return to work, we work with them and their doctor in determining the proper amount of permanent partial disability benefits to which they are entitled.
  • Vocational Rehabilitation - If the doctor finds that an injured employee is not able to return to his or her pre-injury occupation, the injured employee may be entitled to vocational rehabilitation at no cost to the employee. Vocational rehabilitation is a program designed to assist an individual in returning to gainful employment or by providing a retraining program designed to help an individual acquire the skills necessary to return to suitable employment.
  • Permanent Total Disability Benefits - If an employee is injured to the extent that he or she is unable to return to any type of gainful employment despite an attempt at vocational rehabilitation, then the employee is entitled to weekly benefits (two thirds of the average weekly wage but capped by a scheduled weekly maximum) for life.
  • Death Benefits - If you were a total or partial dependent (one who relied upon another for financial support) of an employee who died as a result of a work injury, you may have the right to recover certain benefits, including burial expenses and weekly benefits.
  • Third Party Personal Injury Claim - If your injury at work was as a result of the negligence or fault of someone other than yourself, a co-worker or your immediate employer, you may have an additional cause of action, or a Third Party Personal Injury claim. Examples include an automobile accident in the course of your employment, a construction site accident when the General Contractor or a Subcontractor was at fault or a personal injury from a defective or dangerous product or piece of machinery. In a Third Party Personal Injury case, a civil cause of action can be filed against the negligent party, and may entitle you to civil damages, including pain and suffering, past, present and future lost wages, medical bills, and payment for loss of companionship or society of your family.
  • Social Security Disability - If your injury results in Total Disability for 12 consecutive months or more, (or is expected to), you may have the right to receive Social Security Disability Benefits, in addition to the benefits you are receiving from the Workers' Compensation Insurer.

Unfortunately, it is not always easy to obtain benefits. There are several circumstances where it is particularly important that you contact an attorney for assistance.

  • An employer has denied that you were injured while on the job;
  • You have been refused medical treatment;
  • You have received a denial from the insurance company;
  • Compensation was promised but has not materialized,
  • You are without income;
  • Your employer does not carry compensation insurance;
  • A third party has caused your accident.

POTENTIAL LEGAL PROBLEMS YOU MAY HAVE WITH YOUR CASE

  • The Workers' Compensation Insurer has started to pay you weekly compensation benefits and medical benefits, and you suddenly receive a notification advising you that your benefits will be terminated. You are still under active treatment with your doctor and have not been cleared to return to work. What legal rights do you have?
  • The Workers' Compensation Insurer has scheduled a medical examination with one of their doctors ("Independent Medical Exam"). Do you have to attend this examination? The Insurance Company doctor has cleared you to return to work, but your doctor disagrees with this medical opinion. Are you required to follow the advice or opinion of the Insurance Company doctor? What will happen to your entitlement to receive benefits if you refuse to follow the advice of the Insurance Company doctor?
  • Your doctor has cleared you to return to work with medical limitations or restrictions ( for example, "no heavy lifting, or no repetitive bending, stooping or kneeling"); or your doctor has released you to return to work on a part-time light-duty basis. Are you legally required to return to work? Is your employer legally required to provide you with a light-duty or part-time job that is consistent with the limitations specified by your doctor? What are your legal rights if your employer cannot accommodate your physical limitations? Can the Workers' Compensation Insurer terminate or reduce your benefits if your employer claims to have no light-duty work available? If your employer has no light-duty work available, can you find light-duty work elsewhere and still receive a weekly compensation benefit from the Workers' Compensation Insurer?
  • Your doctor or the Insurance Company doctor has released you to return to light-duty work, and your employer claims to have no light-duty work available. Because of your injury, you are unable to find light-duty work with another employer. Despite having no ability to obtain light-duty work, the Workers' Compensation Insurer has terminated or reduced your weekly compensation benefits. Can the Workers' Compensation Insurer legally terminate or reduce your benefits? Can the Workers' Compensation Insurer force you to apply for Unemployment Benefits? If you do receive Unemployment Benefits, what effect does this have upon your rights to receive Workers' Compensation benefits?
  • Your doctor has requested that you undergo a certain course of medical treatment or surgery, and the Workers' Compensation insurer refuses to pay for the treatment. What legal rights do you have? The Workers' Compensation Insurer claims that your medical condition and/or need for treatment is not related to your accident at work and refuses to pay for the treatment recommended by your doctor. What legal rights do you have?

TIME IS IMPORTANT

Because the Statute of Limitations applies to personal injury cases, victims have a limited time frame in which to file their case. This also applies to Illinois workers compensation claims. If you have an Illinois worker comp claim, it is subject to the Statute of Limitations and you may need to consult an Illinois worker compensation lawyer. It is important that you consult an attorney if you believe you have a claim, so that you protect your right to file suit.

ATTORNEYS FEES

In workers' compensation, the attorney's fee is a contingent fee. A contingent fee agreement is an alternative to an hourly attorney's fee agreement. Under a contingent fee agreement, there is no attorney's fee charged, if the injured person does not secure a recovery. In Illinois, the amount that can be charged by your lawyer for your worker's compensation claim is set by the State of Illinois at 20% of the injured employee's recovery. Consult our office for further details.

The Harris & Jones Law Firm will evaluate your Workers' Compensation case thoroughly, and preserve your rights under the law. Contact us today for a free consultation of your case at one of the following office numbers: 1-618-542-8232 (DuQuoin).

 

 
© Harris and Jones Law Firm 2013