When an employee is hurt at work, the company they are employed under is generally responsible for the cost of treatment. This doesn’t mean that a workers’ compensation claim will be a walk in the park, however, as stubborn employers and insurers can utilize manipulative tactics to avoid the full weight of their responsibility.
No one expects to get hurt at work, but it can happen. When on-site injuries occur, a workers’ compensation attorney in Chicago can advocate for your best interests as the injured employee, acting as a professional keeping an eye out for any red flags in how your claim unfolds.
They aim to help you secure the largest claim possible for your work injury. They can also help you explore other sources of third-party liability, such as a possible claim against the property owner or the manufacturer of a dangerous device.
The Fakhouri Firm Accident and Injury Lawyers is proud to serve the working community in Chicago, providing legal representation to those affected by the dangers of their jobs. We have years of experience protecting the financial interests of injured workers like yourself, who shouldn’t have to worry about legalities while healing.
To schedule your free, no-obligation consultation with a Chicago workers’ compensation lawyer from The Fakhouri Firm, call (312) 999-9990 or contact us online today.
Why Work With a Chicago Workers’ Compensation Attorney
The steps following an injury at work can be confusing, especially if you have never experienced any injury claims before. It is incredibly easy for a person to overlook small details or become overwhelmed with the complicated legal implications, not to mention the pressure from other parties.
A lawyer can help you drown out all of the noise and focus only on what you need to know.
The process following an accident on the job can be complex, with fine details and time-sensitive steps, but an attorney knows how to approach it efficiently while helping overcome any obstacles that may arise along the way.
When you have an attorney working by your side, you can avoid a headache from the following aspects of the workers’ compensation process:
- Handling conversations with your insurer/employer: During your claim, you’ll inevitably have to have multiple conversations with your employer and possibly the company’s insurer regarding the details of your accident, ongoing injuries, and treatment. An attorney can speak on your behalf, allowing you to trade many of these timely conversations for a simple update from your attorney.
- Reviewing lengthy policy documents and claim forms: Any type of insurance claim is going to involve extensive legal documents such as releases, notices, and agreements. These documents can be difficult to fully grasp because of their dense language. It is common for people to overlook important details within documents, which often leads to more complex issues later. A lawyer knows how to efficiently analyze and assess the contents of legal documents while helping you complete all needed forms with accuracy and the needed level of detail.
- Spotting common tactics to undervalue your claim: When someone works through their insurance claim without an attorney, they are more likely to be taken advantage of by tactics that undervalue said claim — or deny it — and leave them questioning their injury’s worth. A lawyer can protect the legal rights of an employee during a workers’ compensation claim and evaluate statements made for accuracy based on state laws and the letter of the policy in question.
- Managing every aspect of your claim while you heal: Recovering from a work-related injury can be time-consuming, and the added strain of managing your financial well-being can slow down recovery progress, often leaving you feeling stretched thin. An attorney will take the legal responsibilities of your workers’ compensation claim off of your hands, keeping you updated and prepared where necessary. They manage the bulk of the work so you can heal. Instead of feeling forced to choose between your physical and financial recovery, a lawyer can help you do both.
Workers Comp Is a No-Fault System
When someone is injured on the job, it is typical for questions to be asked about how the injury occurred. The employee may even fear that they will be blamed for the circumstances of their own injury.
The good news is that if you were hurt on the job, it would generally be covered by The Workers’ Compensation Act, even if you believe that you had some fault in your own injury. Because worker’s compensation is a no-fault system, that means an employee does not have to prove that the accident was caused by their employer’s negligence.
Workers are protected from even having to discuss fault or causation within their claim in most cases. This situation benefits both parties when accidents happen. An employee’s recovery is protected, and the business remains stable without the threat of a negligence claim.
What Injuries are Covered By Workers Compensation Benefits, and Which are Not?
In 2021, almost 4.3 million work-related injuries were reported to medical professionals for assessment. The same report notes that construction workers had the highest number of fatalities in the same year.
Most injuries will be covered by workers’ compensation benefits, but there are some unique cases where exceptions apply.
Typically, the only situations that are not covered under the Workers Compensation Act involve intentional harm and extremely reckless acts where a person endangers themself, breaking safety protocols. In other cases, if the employee was injured while committing a crime or while they were discovered to have been working under the influence of drugs or alcohol, benefits may be unavailable.
Some Industries Have Special Worker Protections
In Illinois, there are multiple regulations that protect specific groups of workers in the state. The Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) covers railroad workers in Illinois in cases of neglect from the employment company or management.
The Jones Act protects all employees who work on the state’s waterways and covers situations regarding negligence, similar to FELA.
The burden of proof falls on the injured employee in both of these cases, but the regulations can help ensure that an employee’s rights are protected and that employer support through recovery is mandated, often resulting in a greater range of benefits than that which is required by state-compliant workers compensation plans
What Benefits Can I Receive From a Workers Compensation Claim?
Because there are many types of workers’ compensation claims, the types of benefits vary depending on the situation. All compensation aside from medical bills is up for negotiation, which makes having an attorney a useful resource.
Generally, a few categories make up the benefits of workers’ compensation in Illinois, which include:
- Payment of all medical costs for the work-related injury
- Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) and Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) coverage to partially compensate for the difference in earnings for reduced hours or lower-paying job duties
- Temporary Total Disability (TTD) and Permanent Total Disability (PTD) coverage to partially replace the employee’s former wages in the event they are completely unable to work following their accident or occupational illness
- Vocational retraining for individuals who are unable to return to their former job role and require new education, certification, or training to find an appropriate replacement occupation
- Death benefits, paid to the designated beneficiaries in the event of a wrongful death
What Does the Workers Comp Process Look Like in Illinois?
While every case is unique and requires a fresh approach from the representing attorney, it may be a relief to know that the main steps of the process are standard and your attorney is fully equipped to oversee each one.
Below, the main eight steps of the workers’ compensation claim process are thoroughly outlined. Note that this is a general map of the process and that an attorney can help you better understand the specifics of how your case will play out.
Recognition of Injury and Initial Treatment
When you recognize your injury or developing condition, the most important step to take is to seek medical attention for an initial analysis of your physical state. Some injuries like chronic diseases won’t appear suddenly, like a trauma injury would, instead gradually progressing over time.
These conditions can be difficult to recover compensation for because of how long it may take to catch the issue, making proving the connection between the illness and the job more difficult. You’ll want to keep a record of your doctor’s initial assessment of your physical condition for later steps in recovering workers’ compensation benefits.
Notifying Your Employer of the Accident
Once you have determined that you are suffering from an injury or long-forming ailment, you must notify your employer about the details of your specific condition. You may have a private conversation with your employer, but this notice should also be digitally recorded with an email or other message.
At most workplaces, you will be asked to complete a standardized form. A lawyer can help you draft this notice, ensuring that you are presenting the right information and not offering any unnecessary details in the process.
Providing a Notice of Work Restrictions
Next, you’ll need to give your employer a more detailed understanding of what you can and cannot do at work. If you cannot work, details surrounding your physical capabilities should be listed in this notice.
Your doctor can help you put together the specifics of this list, and your attorney can help you craft the actual notice for your claim’s record.
Filing a Claim
All injured employees must file an Application for Adjustment of Claim with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission after experiencing an on-site injury. This step kickstarts the bulk of your journey toward recovering workers’ compensation benefits, as it officially prompts the discussion for a benefits settlement.
This is one of the incredibly time-consuming steps of the recovery process that a lawyer can take off of your hands, and all you’ll need to do is provide the relevant records for the claim.
Documenting Ongoing Treatment
It is essential to keep a record of every doctor visit related to this injury or work-related condition in order to prove your dedication to recovery. This way, your employer and their insurer will have a harder time arguing that you are worsening your own condition through failure to follow doctor’s orders.
Doctors’ notes, appointment logs, photos, videos, and any other evidence that proves your commitment to treatment are often vital
The Independent Medical Exam (IME)
An IME is a physical examination performed by a third-party doctor with no connection to your treatment. This assessment is conducted to get a second opinion on your condition, the most efficient treatment, and work restrictions.
This medical provider will also analyze your previous medical records and testing to paint a clearer picture of how your injury is affecting you.
An IME is similar to your initial examination after discovering the injury and is your employer’s right. This test is not always performed, as employers can opt to waive their right to have an IME, but it is a common step that claimants should be prepared for.
There may be a situation where the doctor treating your injuries and the third-party medical professional do not agree on the best and most efficient approach for treatment.
In these cases, having an attorney can be especially beneficial because they can organize a meeting to resolve any outstanding disagreements and discrepancies with the aim of progressing your claim. An attorney can remind them of the evidence provided and facilitate an open environment for resolving the dispute.
Negotiating Benefits Beyond Treating the Injury
One of the most daunting steps for claimants seeking workers’ compensation benefits is the final negotiation. This step requires a thorough understanding of the evidence provided and a confident way of presenting it to the table.
When an injured employee retains a lawyer to speak on their behalf, it shows how serious and committed they are to a comprehensive recovery. An attorney can act on your behalf during negotiations, updating you with settlement offers and advice about their worthiness.
Can I Get Fired For Filing a Claim?
Simply put, no. You cannot be fired for filing a workers’ compensation claim. If you are fired for this reason, the company faces a large monetary threat should you decide to sue for retaliation. A lawyer would argue a retaliatory discharge and may even dip into arguments of discrimination, effectively costing the company more than the act of firing you is worth.
Talk to an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Law Firm in Chicago If You’ve Been Injured at Work
An injury on the job can leave you out of work and with steep medical expenses. Managing the financial burden of any serious injury can be exhausting, but a workers’ compensation injury can be uniquely stressful.
When you work with The Fakhouri Firm Accident and Injury Lawyers, you’ll gain a team of skilled professionals who are passionate about protecting the well-being of Chicago’s working individuals. Instead of worrying about the fine details of your claim, having representation means you can spend your valuable time focusing on recovery.
The Fakhouri Firm has experienced attorneys standing by to help. To schedule a free consultation with a Chicago workers’ compensation lawyer from Fakhouri Firm, call (312) 999-9990 or contact us online.