About Your Workers’ Compensation Rights In Illinois
If you were injured on the job in Illinois, as in other states, you likely qualify to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ compensation is a system under the law that allows workers to receive compensation for injuries at work without filing lawsuits.
Workers who are susceptible to injury may be nurses, nursing home workers, auto workers, construction workers and others who may be union workers. However, workers’ compensation is available to all kinds of workers, including office workers, educators and hospitality workers, such as hotel employees, waiters, cooks and other food service workers.
No matter what your occupation is, if you are covered by workers’ compensation, you should be able to get medical care almost immediately after an on-the-job injury through workers’ compensation benefits. Then, if you are unable to work for several weeks or months because of your injuries, you may also qualify for temporary or permanent disability compensation and other types, as follows:
- Temporary total disability (TTD) if you are unable to work for a while after being injured
- Temporary partial disability (TPD) if you are available for light-duty work while recovering
- Vocational rehabilitation and maintenance benefits, if applicable
- Permanent partial disability (PPD) if an employee can return to work but has a permanent disability or disfigurement
- Permanent total disability (PTD) if you are no longer able to work because of your injuries
- Death benefits for surviving spouses or minor children after a work-related fatality
Workers’ compensation is not necessarily the only source of compensation you have access to after a workplace injury. You may have private insurance. In addition, if a person or company that is not your employer was negligent and therefore responsible for your accident, you may be able to bring a third-party liability claim, which would be a separate personal injury case.
For the most expedient and effective coordination of efforts to get your injuries and losses paid for after a workplace injury, turn to experienced workers’ compensation lawyers. At Marker & Crannell, we are proud to represent our fellow Naperville area neighbors and clients in other nearby communities who have been injured while engaged in occupational activities.
Reach Out To A Workers’ Compensation Attorney In Aurora After An Accidental Injury On The Job
Depending on the circumstances, if possible, you should report your accidental injury to your supervisor or human resources (HR) department. Your employer’s worker’s compensation insurer may then tell you where to go to receive medical care. If you have already gone to another doctor, be sure to keep your receipts and, as soon as possible, coordinate the rest of your care with the workers’ comp insurer or your HR officials.
Besides reporting your accident, you should demonstrate a good-faith effort to get better after an accident on the job. This means you should keep your doctors’ appointments, participate in physical therapy as recommended and otherwise do your part to get well. Keep all medical receipts and keep track of where your medical records are housed.
If all goes well, you should have access to all available and legally mandated workers’ compensation benefits, Unfortunately, sometimes employers or workers’ compensation lawyers take steps to block employees from getting all benefits they are eligible for. For example, your work comp-appointed doctor may say you are ready to go back to work before you are ready. Or the insurer may stop paying TTD or TPD before you feel able to work again.
By working with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer, you can be reassured that your rights are being monitored. You will have an advocate ready to take up your cause at any point.
What If Your Union Pledges To Watch Out For You?
Union workers sometimes have the mistaken notion that their unions will back them up after they have suffered injuries on the job. While unions do provide useful services, they are not trial-ready and do not have the legal training and experience that makes for a successful advocate in case of a dispute with the employer or their workers’ comp insurer.
At Marker & Crannell, we welcome the opportunity to represent clients from the beginning of their workers’ compensation eligibility and for as long as necessary to ensure that they receive all due workers’ comp benefits. We are knowledgeable and skilled in communications with all important people and organizations with relevant roles to play in injured employees’ recoveries, including:
- Medical care providers
- Employers and their HR representatives
- Workers’ comp employers
- Unions that advise their members
To learn about the simplified, comprehensive guidance we will provide, schedule an initial consultation regarding your injuries, such as those discussed below.
Common Workers’ Compensation Injuries
If You Have Spine Injuries (Neck, Upper Back, Low Back)
The spine is made up of three regions – the upper back, often called the neck (cervical), the upper back (thoracic), and the lower back (lumbar). Each of these is made of up discs between the bony aspects of the spine. The discs, or the areas between the bony spine, act as shock absorbers for the body as we walk and move and perform activities.
Nerves from the human body run into the spaces near the discs, into the spine and ultimately send and receive signals to/from the brain and various parts of the body. The nerves from the cervical spine run from the spine out and down the arms and into the fingers. The nerves from the lumbar spine run out and down the legs and into the feet and toes. Nerves from the thoracic spine run out and to the midsection of the body and many of our organs.
Back injuries are some of the most common work activities. The severity of these injuries ranges from simple sprain/strains to bulging discs, herniated discs and fractures of the vertebrae of the spine. When a disc is bulged, it is generally flatter and more squished than a healthy disc (think of pushing down on a tennis ball).
When a disc is herniated, this means that the disc has a protrusion or a more narrow disfigurement (think of a peninsula coming out of the tennis ball). If a disc has an annular fissure, it means that the outer layer of the disc has cracked or been torn open. If a disc has an extrusion or “disc material,” it means that the jelly from inside the disc is leaking out. The jelly from inside the disc is caustic to nerves and painful as it is released into the body.
When a disc is bulging or herniated, it can affect the nerve that runs near it, cutting off sensation to areas of the arms/legs or hands and feet near where that nerve runs into the spine. Pain down a nerve in the arm or leg is a common symptom of a disc injury called radiculopathy. The main way a doctor will determine the extent of a spine injury is with an MRI of the lumbar, thoracic or cervical spine.
Depending on the severity of the injury, doctors will first try physical therapy to help. If that does not work, they may recommend an injection into the spine. If that does not work, surgery is done to either eradicate the part of the disc that ruptured or remove it altogether. This is called a discectomy.
If the spine is affected in such a way that the disc cannot be fixed and is unstable above or below, a doctor may recommend a fusion, where the bones above and below are fused together with a plate and screws. In the cervical spine, there is a relatively newer procedure used called an artificial disc replacement, were a prosthetic or artificial disc is inserted in place of the old one.
Many times, there are permanent restrictions after spinal surgeries because the range of motion and strength can be limited, which may affect one’s ability to return to one’s job depending on how physical it is. For these reasons, it is important to consult with an attorney who is familiar with these kinds of cases and explain what the law allows for when a person can or cannot get back to work after a spinal injury.
If Your Shoulder Is Injured
The rotator cuff in the shoulder is made up of 4 different muscles/tendons – the infraspinatus, supraspinatus, subscapularis and teres minor. Additionally, the labrum and the bicep tendons attach at various points in the shoulder and can be affected by an acute injury. One or more of these tendons can become injured as the result of force or a load against the arm.
It is important to identify which of these tendons might be injured and the most accurate way of doing so is with an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). X-rays will not show ligament issues. Therefore, it is important to get to a doctor that understands these injuries and the need for an MRI.
Most often, a company clinic will not recommend or approve an MRI until months into your treatment after you have tried physical therapy or other remedies. The reason is that this MRI test is expensive, and their motivation is to help the insurance carrier save money. Further, most company clinic physicians do not specialize in orthopedic shoulder work. You need to consult with an experienced attorney who can advise you of quality orthopedic specialists in your area.
Typical treatment for shoulder injuries starts with physical therapy. If no progress is made there and an MRI shows any issue, a doctor may try an injection. If an injection does not provide relief, surgery could be explored.
The types of surgery vary in these cases depending on which tendons are involved. However, it is common that the biceps tendon is torn at the same time one of the rotator cuff tendons is torn. In that case, a biceps tenodesis will be recommended in addition to the repair of the rotator cuff. That procedure involves re-attaching the biceps tendon to the bone to stabilize it.
If You Have A Knee Injury
Most often, injuries to the knees involve either the ligaments in the inner knee, like the ACL and/or the MCL, or the bones and/or cartilage of the knee, like the meniscus, patella, or tibial plateau. The ligaments have different functions in helping provide stability to the knee joint with different motions. The cartilage and bony components are structural and support the weight of the body and allow the knee to function smoothly. There are two menisci in each knee, medial and lateral meniscus. The smooth cartilage in the meniscus acts as a shock absorber for the knee joint – when a meniscus is torn, it is common to feel catching, popping, or locking in the knee, especially when going up or down stairs. Orthopedic “sports medicine” physicians specialize in knee treatment. An MRI is the best way to identify what part of your knee is injured. Most company clinic physicians do not specialize in orthopedic knee injuries. You need to consult with an experienced attorney who can advise you of quality orthopedic specialists in your area.
Typical treatment for knee injuries begins with physical therapy. If no progress is being made there, a doctor may recommend an injection. If the knee is swollen, a doctor could perform an aspiration or drainage procedure. If the knee still does not respond and an MRI shows surgery is needed, a repair of one or more of the tendons can be performed, such as a meniscectomy, ACL repair, MCL repair or sometimes even a total knee replacement.
Many times, people can develop arthritis in their knees not related to their work injuries – this is essentially the wearing down of the cartilage in the joint of the knee. The degree of wearing is graded by a doctor from Grade 1 to Grade 4. Once all of the cartilage is gone, the knee is bone on bone and cannot move and typically, a total knee replacement is required.
A work injury can accelerate the arthritic process, especially when there is a tear in one of the tendons, which compromises the integrity of the entire knee. Therefore, one must consult with an attorney to discuss these medical conditions to determine whether their injuries were aggravated by a work activity or not.
If You Suffered Injuries To The Nerves In Your Arms
Cubital tunnel injuries are injuries to the nerve at the elbow, while carpal tunnel injuries occur at the wrist. These injuries can be caused by actual direct trauma or repetitive trauma – where one does forceful and repetitive tasks over time that wear down these nerves.
If you are having pain down your arm, various tests can be performed to determine where the nerve is damaged, the most common of which is an EMG/NCV test. This test will determine if the nerves down your arm are being compromised in common areas such as the neck, elbow or hand. If at the neck, this can be a spinal injury in the cervical spine, pinching the nerve that enters it. If at the elbow, the cubital tunnel could be the problem – pinching the nerve as it goes through.
If at the wrist, the carpal tunnel could be pinching the nerve. In any of these scenarios, an orthopedic specialist is needed and a company clinic physician does not have that level of specialty and, therefore, typically will not order this test until months later. You should consult with an experienced attorney who can advise you of quality orthopedic specialists in your area.
Common treatment for these nerve injuries includes initial therapy and medications to ease the nerve pain. If that does not work, surgery can be performed on the affected area, which could include a carpal tunnel release, a cubital tunnel release, an ulnar nerve transposition, or a medial epicondyle release.
All of these treatments are an attempt to allow the nerve to be free of restriction and get feeling back in the affected area and extremity. Many times after these surgeries, one can be left with residual nerve pain and even permanent strength issues. Therefore, it is important to speak to an attorney who can explain what the law allows for when a person can or cannot get back to work after a nerve injury.
Get A Free Consultation With A Workers’ Compensation Attorney In Naperville
At Marker & Crannell, a work injury attorney will evaluate your case, explain how we can help and start right away representing you as needed to maximize all available benefits for you after a workplace accident.
To get your name on our booking calendar, please call us at 630-912-6009 or send an email inquiry to schedule a consultation. We will come to your home, hospital or workplace as is necessary. If you would like to skip our initial intake process, please consider the option of completing this form prior to our meeting.