Having an experienced Chicago workers' compensation lawyer on your side can help you collect the benefits for your injury or illness. If you have been injured at work or suffered a work-related illness, claiming workers’ compensation is often the only way to get money to cover your medical expenses and pay your bills. Even though Illinois has a “no-fault” workers’ compensation system, many insurance companies and employers still make it hard for injured workers to recover fair compensation.
Our team of dedicated Chicago workers’ compensation lawyers has helped many clients get their maximum compensation. We have recovered millions of dollars for injured workers in all types of jobs in the Chicago area and throughout Illinois. Contact us at (312) 300-2515 for a free case evaluation.
What Is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation refers to the benefits that employees and workers receive under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. These benefits come in the form of insurance payments paid by your employer. The insurance kicks in when you’re injured because of the negligence of your employer or co-worker while you’re at work.
However, the amount you receive largely depends on how your injury is assessed. Sadly, many employers and insurance companies use tactics in their assessments to reduce the amount they have to pay. As a result, many workers end up getting less than they deserve.
To maximize your benefits, you should hire a Chicago workers' compensation lawyer as soon as you’re injured to help you with your claim.
Workers’ Compensation Law in Illinois
The first workers’ compensation law in Illinois was enacted in 1912. The Workers’ Compensation Act governs workers’ compensation. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission oversees all claims.
Employers must purchase workers’ compensation policies under the current law, or if they meet certain requirements, they can self-insure. The premium rates depend on the type of business and the number of employees. This means that businesses or jobs that have a higher risk of injury pay a higher premium.
If you suffer an injury or contract a work-related disease, you can claim compensation against your employer’s workers’ compensation policy. You can do this without having to prove that the injury resulted from negligence.
Workers’ compensation applies even if partially or fully responsible for the accident.
Work-Related Injury Statistics in Chicago
According to the state Workers’ Compensation Commission, about 200, 000 work-related accidents occur every year in Illinois.
In 2016, private industry employers reported over 110,000 non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 5.4% of the reported workplace injuries were in the natural resources and mining industries, followed by 4.9% in government work, 3.4% in manufacturing, 2.6% in services, and 2.1% in construction.
The construction industry accounts for the highest percentage of deaths at 22.1%.
The rate of non-fatal occupational accidents is at 3.2 for every 100 full-time employees.
Who Pays For My Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Your employer or the state pays your workers’ compensation. This is done through a state-run insurance program via payments to an insurance company or direct payments from the company to the injured worker. Thus, the source of money, depending on the employer, may come from the state government, an insurance company, the employer itself, or a third-party administrator.
State-Run Workers Compensation Programs
An employer can choose to use a state-run program to take care of its worker’s compensation payments. These programs are administered by the department of labor, commerce, or industrial relations, and they provide funds to employers.
Usually, employers that have a low risk of workplace accidents use state-run programs. Employers pay premiums to these programs, and if there’s a claim, the government handles compensation through the department that oversees the program.
Private Insurance Workers Compensation Programs
Many employers pay compensation through private companies. If your employer uses third-party private insurance to take care of their Workers’ Compensation, then your claim will be directed towards these companies.
Larger, proven corporations may self-insure themselves. The corporation must have significant assets to cover any Workers’ compensation payouts that must be made. The state oversees these corporations to make sure they make all necessary payouts. Further, self-insured companies use a third-party administrator who takes care of the paperwork, processing, and management of claims.
Do I Have a Workers' Compensation Case?
The foundation of a workers’ compensation case is whether your injury or illness happened at work. However, every day, employees are shocked to find out that -- according to their employer, their injury doesn’t count as ‘work-related.’
Here are common situations that could happen at work and how they can affect your workers’ compensation case:
Were you injured because you broke your company’s safety rules? You might have a solid claim.
Sometimes, breaking company rules (even criminally) doesn’t disqualify you from recovering workers’ compensation benefits. Your claim holds water if your employer knew about the behavior that led to your accident, such as falling asleep while operating heavy equipment or roughhousing near heavy equipment, and they ignored it.
While there are a few exceptions, such as self-inflicted injuries. But generally, misconduct doesn’t prevent you from receiving workers’ compensation.
Illness and Diseases
Work-related diseases and illnesses are hard to prove. The exceptions are environmental diseases, such as black lung and asbestosis triggered by exposure to coal dust and asbestos, respectively. These environmental diseases have a distinct causal agent and can be linked directly to your workplace.
Loss of Hearing
Although it’s commonly accepted by construction and factory workers that some hearing loss is inevitable, this doesn’t mean you don’t have a workers’ compensation case.
Loss of hearing is a work-related injury, and you might be entitled to workers’ compensation.
Don’t assume that aggravating a pre-existing condition at work doesn’t allow you to file a workers’ compensation case.
For instance, if you injure your ankle at work and start a new job after it heals, but slip and re-injure your ankle, you're still eligible for workers’ compensation.
If certain events that happened at work traumatized you, such as a co-worker suicide or fatal accident: workers’ compensation should cover medical expenses related to your trauma.
Although stress and depression-related to work can be tricky to prove, you might be eligible for workers' compensation. Our experienced Chicago workers’ compensation lawyer can help you recover your workers’ compensation.
If you sustain injuries while commuting to and from your workplace, you are not eligible for workers' compensation. However, any injuries you sustain traveling for business, such as driving a company vehicle to a job site or traveling to meet your clients; should be compensated.
Lunch breaks are tricky. You’re not eligible for workers’ compensation if you sustain injuries on your lunch break. However, there are a few exceptions:
If you’re going to get food for your boss, you may be eligible for workers' compensation.
Or, if you’re injured in the company cafeteria or canteen, you might be eligible for workers’ compensation.
Our Chicago workers’ compensation lawyers can help you navigate the ins and outs of lunch break injuries, and figure out if you’re eligible for compensation.
If you twist your ankle at a company soccer game, or slip and fall during your company’s Christmas party, you may be entitled to compensation. The workers’ compensation covers any injuries sustained at company functions.
What Kinds of Workers Compensation Benefits Can I Receive?
According to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, workers injured on the job are eligible for several benefits. These include:
Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefits: An injured worker is entitled to these benefits during their initial period off of work. The amount is usually two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly wages. This is designed to provide them with a paycheck during the pendency of their claim.
Medical Expenses: Injured employees are entitled to medical benefits, which cover the costs of all necessary medical treatment.
Lump-Sum Settlement: Once the employee has recovered fully and is no longer disabled, they’re entitled to a lump-sum settlement to compensate for any permanent disability, as either permanent partial disability (PPD), or permanent total disability (PTD). The disability the worker continues to suffer even after making full recovery governs the value of disability claim. If the employee dies because of their work-related injuries, surviving family members can seek death benefits. This helps the family cover out-of-pocket expenses related to the accident, including medical bills and funeral expenses.
There are many things to consider when filing a workers' compensation claim. It can get complicated very quickly. Having a Chicago workers' compensation lawyer fight for you will ensure that you get the compensation you deserve.
Should I Get a Chicago workers' compensation lawyer?
Sometimes, you might get by without a Chicago workers' compensation lawyer if all the following statements are true:
You suffered a minor work-related injury, such as a twisted ankle that heals quickly.
Your employer admits the accident happened at work.
You don’t have a pre-existing condition affecting the same part of your body as the workplace injury.
It’s a good idea to contact a Chicago workers’ compensation lawyer for a free case review, even in less complicated cases.
However, the moment any complexity arises in your claim you should contact a Chicago workers' compensation lawyer as soon as possible. The following situations warrant immediate Chicago workers' compensation lawyer intervention:
If your employer denies the injury happened at work or delays to pay your benefits.
If your employer’s settlement offer doesn’t cover all your medical expenses or lost wages.
If the medical issues prevent you from returning to your initial job, limit what you can do at work, or prevent you from performing any work at all.
If you receive or plan to apply for Social Security disability benefits.
If your employer retaliates against you for filing a workers’ compensation claim.
If you were injured because of a third party’s actions or your employer’s gross misconduct.
Contact our Chicago Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Today
If you sustained a work injury, you deserve to be treated fairly and to recover fair compensation. Contact Ktenas Injury Lawyers at (312) 300-2515 for a free consultation. Thanks to the dedication of our experienced Chicago workers' compensation lawyers and staff, we have a higher success rate in securing compensation for our clients. Don't wait! Call our law firm today.