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Chicago, Illinois 60654
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Illinois Workers’ Compensation Law Firm
Chicago Workplace Accident Attorneys
Workers' compensation is a state-mandated insurance program that provides compensation to employees who suffer job-related injuries and illnesses. Each state has its own laws and regulations regarding workers’ compensation. In general, an employee with a work-related illness or injury is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits regardless of who is at fault for the illness or injury and, in exchange, the employee is generally not permitted to sue the employer in court for damages related to those injuries. There are situations, however, in which another third party may be found liable for contributory negligence.
Workers’ compensation generally covers all injuries that are caused – in whole or in part – by the employee’s work. Workers’ compensation even covers pre-existing conditions if the employee’s job exacerbated the condition. Injuries sustained at an employer-sponsored recreational activity, such as an employee picnic or company softball league, are not covered unless the employee is required to participate in the activity.
In Illinois, employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. While most employers purchase workers’ compensation coverage from an insurance company, some employers obtain the state’s approval to self-insure. Employees can check an employer’s workplace notice at the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC) website or contact the IWCC’s Insurance Compliance Division at (866) 352-3033.
The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act (IWCA) requires employers to provide injured employees with benefits including:
- Medical and rehabilitative expenses;
- Temporary total disability benefits equal to two-thirds of the employee’s average gross weekly wage if the employee is unable to work while recovering;
- Temporary partial permanent disability benefits equal to two-thirds of the difference between the average amount the worker would be able to earn in his or her pre-injury job and the net amount he or she earns in a light-duty job while recovering;
- Permanent total disability benefits if there is a loss of use of a part of the body; and
- Job retraining.
Workers’ compensation benefits are not taxable income to the employee.
When Workers’ Compensation May Be Denied
There are certain situations in which an injured employee may be denied workers’ compensation benefits, such as:
- Self-inflicted injuries (including those caused by a person who starts a fight)
- Injuries suffered while a worker was committing a serious crime
- Injuries suffered while an employee was not on the job, and
- Injuries suffered when an employee's conduct violated company policy.
Workers’ Compensation Obligations of Employers
Employers are prohibited from charging employees for any part of the workers’ compensation insurance premiums or benefits. In addition to the requirement that employers obtain workers’ compensation insurance or obtain approval to self-insure, employers are also required to:
- Post a notice in each workplace that explains workers’ compensation rights and provides the name, policy number and contact information of the employer’s insurance carrier.
- Maintain records of work-related injuries and report injuries involving more than 3 lost work days to the IWCC.
- Refrain from harassing, discharging, refusing to rehire or in any way discriminating against an employee who exercises his or her rights under the law.
If an employer negligently fails to fulfill its workers’ compensation insurance obligations, it may be found guilty of a Class A misdemeanor for each day without coverage, which is punishable by up to 12 months imprisonment and a $2,500 fine. If an employer knowingly fails to provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage, it is guilty of a Class 4 felony for each day without coverage, which is punishable by one to three years imprisonment and a $25,000 fine. Uninsured employers may also be fined up to $500 for each day that it lacks insurance, with a minimum fine of $10,000.
If an employer lacks workers’ compensation insurance, it also loses its protection from a civil lawsuit if an employee is injured while the employer lacked coverage. If the IWCC finds that an employer knowingly failed to provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage, it may also issue a stop-work order and force the company to close its doors until it obtains the necessary insurance coverage.
What to Do Following a Workplace Injury
If an employee suffers a workplace injury or illness, he or she should promptly notify the employer. Generally, notice must be given within 45 days of the accident. In order to properly document the workplace accident, it is recommended that an injured employee notify the employer in writing of the date and place of the accident, along with a brief description of the accident and resulting injury, and the employee’s contact information. Notice – either verbally or in writing – must be given to a supervisor or a member of the management team, and notice to a fellow worker who is not a member of management will not be considered proper notice to the employer.
Filing a Claim with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission
If an employer fails to provide workers’ compensation benefits following an accident, the injured employee that wishes to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits must file three copies of its application with the IWCC. There are no fees to file a claim. The employee – not the employer – is required to prove that he or she is required to workers’ compensation benefits by demonstrating that on the date of the accident, the injured worker was an employee of the employer, that the worker sustained injuries or illness as during the course of employment, the medical condition was caused or aggravated by accident, and that the employer received proper notice of the accident. If there is a dispute between the injured employee and the employer, an arbitrator with the IWCC will conduct a trial and issue a decision within 60 days.
Contact a Skilled Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you would like additional information regarding workers’ compensation benefits in Illinois, visit the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission website at http://www.iwcc.il.gov/. The Chicago workers’ compensation law firm of Ankin Law Offices, LLC focuses on helping injured employees to protect their legal rights and obtain the maximum workers’ compensation benefits to which they are entitled.