Workers’ Compensation is a no-fault method of compensating employees for on-the-job injuries. In Illinois, employers are obligated to purchase a Workers’ Comp. insurance policy.
Notifying the Employer:
Any person who is injured in the course and scope of employment needs to notify the employer immediately. Any delay in notifying the employer can have a negative effect on that worker’s claim.
The employer is required to provide medical treatment. The employer is also required to contact the insurance carrier. If the employee is unable to work because of the work injury, the employer is required to provide temporary total disability payments for the period that the employee is not able to work.
The employer may not pay the worker right away because more information is needed, or the employer can deny the claim. The point where an injured worker usually hires an attorney is when the employer needs further information or denies the claim.
Filing a Claim with the Workers’ Compensation Commission:
The worker can file an Application for Adjustment of Claim before the Commission. If the injured worker has immediate concerns regarding his or her claim, a trial should be requested. At the trial, the judge will determine the outcome of the dispute. The judge may order that back temporary total disability be paid and continue, or the judge may order that some other benefit be awarded to the employee.
All cases are heard every three months at the Commission. If there is no movement of the case, it will be in danger of being dismissed. For this reason, defense attorneys and the injured worker must continue to make progress in the case. These three-month status hearings continue for three years. If the case has not been completely resolved, the parties must show good reason why it should continue.
Settlement or Trial:
At the end of the case, the final medical reports are given numeric values. These values are basically averaged together to determine the worker’s level of permanent disability. This level is then adjusted for age and occupation and assigned a final number that matches up with a dollar value. A settlement amount will typically be a little bit higher than the dollar amount of the injury.
If the worker does not accept the settlement, the case will go to trial, and the judge will make a determination. This benefit will be paid on a monthly basis. The injured worker is eligible for a wage differential if he or she has returned to work at a lesser rate of pay than the job where the injury occurred. This differential is two-thirds of the workers’ average weekly wage.
If a work injury prevents an employee from performing his usual and customary occupation, vocational rehabilitation will be offered so the worker can train for a new job that his permanent disability will permit.
Most injured workers retain a Workers’ Compensation attorney to help them through the legal process.