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Workers’ Compensation FAQ

Last updated on May 31, 2024

Use the content index below showing the most basic questions on this page to navigate the available discussions of each. Contact Marker & Crannell for customized information about your workers’ compensation claim.

Contents

Q: What Is Workers’ Compensation?

Q: I Was Recently Injured While On The Job. What Should I Do?

Q: Can I Sue My Employer For Negligence In Illinois?

Q: Can I Collect Federal Disability Payments At The Same Time As Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

Q: How Do I Pay My Attorney?

Q: What Is The Difference Between A Workers’ Compensation Lawsuit And A Personal Injury Or Civil Lawsuit?

Q: I Think A Person Or Company Other Than My Employer May Be Responsible For My Injury. Can I File A Workers’ Compensation Claim And Sue A Third Party?

Q: What Kind Of Benefits Am I Entitled To In A Workers’ Compensation Claim?

Q: Am I Entitled To Pain And Suffering Under Workers’ Compensation In Illinois?

Q. Can I Choose My Own Doctor In A Workers’ Compensation Case In Illinois?

Q: What Is Utilization Review And How Does It Affect My Case?

Q: Should I Sign Any Releases Or Medical Authorizations The Insurance Company Asks Me To Sign At The Onset Of My Case?

Q: Am I Entitled To Be Paid For My Travel And/Or Parking Expenses To/From Doctor’s Visits?

Q: Can An MRI Show Injuries Missed On An X-Ray?

Q: Can I Quit My Job If I’m On Workers’ Comp?

Q: How Long Do I Have To Sue For Work Related Injuries?

Q: Where Can I Learn More About The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Process?

Review common questions and answers about workplace injuries, workers’ compensation claims and related topics. Bring us your questions in a free initial consultation so that we can answer them in a personalized way.

What Is Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ compensation is a system set up to provide benefits to workers who have job-related injuries or diseases. It is a “no-fault” system, which means that a worker is entitled to these benefits even if his employer did nothing wrong – an employee doesn’t need to prove that his employer was negligent or at fault for his/her injuries, the injuries, or diseases must only have been caused by the employee’s work.

Most workers’ compensation claims arise out of an identifiable accident or incident. For instance, a construction worker falls off a roof while installing flashing along with a chimney, resulting in a back injury and a broken arm.

Injuries sustained by repetitive trauma are also compensable. A mason who repetitively picks up bricks and cinder blocks and lays them at or above shoulder level develops a degenerative shoulder condition over time. This would be an example of repetitive trauma. In that scenario, there is no identifiable accident/incident that can be attributed, but the repetitive use of the employee’s shoulders over time caused the injury.

A stroke, heart attack, or aggravation of a preexisting condition is compensable if the employee’s job was a cause of the injury.

If an employee is exposed to something as a result of his/her job that results in injury or disease, it is compensable under the workers’ compensation system in Illinois. The following are examples of exposure injuries: a nurse contracts a disease from a patient; a chemical manufacturer is exposed to toxic chemicals that result in lung disease; a machine operator at a sawmill loses his hearing from the noise.

I Was Recently Injured While On The Job. What Should I Do?

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation laws require you to notify your employer of your injury. Although the law gives an injured employee 45 days to notify his/her employee, you should notify your employer as soon as possible. Write down who you notified, the date you notified them, and how you notified them (telephone call, in person, in writing, etc.). Do not give a statement to an insurance representative without consulting an attorney first.

Make sure you get a doctor’s note for any time you take off work for your injury and always provide your employer with a copy, keeping a copy for your records.

Schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys. You should bring the following with you to your appointment:

    • Pay stubs from the year prior to your injury;
    • Correspondence to and from the employer and/or insurance company regarding the injury;
    • Incident reports;
    • Personal notes and/or journals of events;
    • Medical documents (discharge instructions, off-work notes, bills, insurance cards, explanation of benefits, prescriptions, etc.);
    • Any other document relating to your employment and/or injury.

Can I Sue My Employer For Negligence In Illinois?

No. The Workers’ Compensation Act was in fact created as the exclusive and only remedy an employee has when they are hurt on the job. It was crated this way so that employees could not sue their employers any other way – such as via a negligence claim – in order to limit the exposure an employer would have to paying potentially many thousands of dollars and thereby going out of business. It is possible to have a negligence claim against another person – a third-party, but not the employer. This is often common when an employee is injured by another driver when driving on the job. In that situation, the employee can have both a work injury case and a negligence (personal injury case) against the other driver who caused his/her accident.

Can I Collect Federal Disability Payments At The Same Time As Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

Yes, but there will be an offset. Federal Disability will deduct whatever is being paid for TTD in your work injury case. They could also ask for reimbursement at the end of your case from the settlement benefits you receive. They typically take an offset for the amount you received in a workers’ compensation settlement toward future monthly payments. If you are getting disability benefits or know that you will be seeking them, you should consult with us to better understand how your workers compensation settlement should be structured to achieve a maximum outcome for you and avoid potential offsets.

How Do I Pay My Attorney?

Our Workers’ Compensation and personal injury clients are represented on a contingency fee basis. That means you don’t pay attorney fees unless we collect money for your injuries. Under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation statute, attorney fees in Workers’ Compensation cases are set at 20% of the total settlement or award for the employee’s injury, medical bills, and/or time off work.

What Is The Difference Between A Workers’ Compensation Lawsuit And A Personal Injury Or Civil Lawsuit?

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation laws serve to expedite recovery for workers who are injured in the course of their employment. Instead of a personal injury lawsuit, an injured worker may file a claim with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission to recover for medical bills, lost wages, and the permanency or wage differential. The workers’ compensation claim is an injured worker’s exclusive remedy against the worker’s employer. That is to say that an employee cannot sue their employer for an injury that occurred on the job in a personal injury lawsuit in state or federal court.

The Workers’ Compensation Statute in Illinois was drafted to ensure the employee obtains the above benefits without having to prove “negligence.” Thus, Illinois is called a “no-fault” system, meaning it does not matter whether your employer was negligent or not. Although this standard may seem straightforward, insurance companies for the employer often dispute the nature and severity of your work injury. Sometimes, disputes can arise as to your ability to perform your job duties. These insurance companies have attorneys working hard for them — you should, too.

In a personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiff files a complaint and serves the parties alleged to be responsible for those injuries. The parties then engage in discovery, where each side gets to ask the other side written questions, request documents, take depositions, etc., to prepare for trial. There is no discovery in Workers’ Compensation cases. For this reason, personal injury lawsuits typically take longer to litigate than Workers’ Compensation claims.

I Think A Person Or Company Other Than My Employer May Be Responsible For My Injury. Can I File A Workers’ Compensation Claim And Sue A Third Party?

Sometimes, a third party may be liable for your injuries. For instance, if you are a delivery person who is involved in a car accident caused by another driver while out delivering, you have a workers’ compensation claim against your employer and a potential third-party lawsuit against the driver of the car that hit you. In this case, the workers’ compensation claim would entitle the injured worker to medical bill payment, temporary total disability, and a permanency or wage loss differential. The money recovered in the third-party lawsuit against the at-fault driver would then be responsible for reimbursing the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company out of the amount recovered by settlement or verdict in that case. The employer’s insurance company is entitled to recover the amount it paid in the worker’s compensation matter minus a pro-rata share of the attorney’s fees and costs incurred in the third-party lawsuit.

Marker & Crannell will carefully review your case to determine if there is a potential third-party liability action.

What Kind Of Benefits Am I Entitled To In A Workers’ Compensation Claim?

If your injury happened while you were on the job and was related to a job task you were performing, you are entitled to three main benefits: payment of your medical bills, compensation for your time off work and payment for the permanency of your injury. Read below for a more detailed description of each type of benefit.

Medical Bills

The employer is required to pay for all the medical care that is reasonably necessary to cure or relieve the employee from the effects of the injury. This can include first aid, emergency care, doctor visits, hospital care, surgery, physical therapy, chiropractic treatment, pharmaceuticals, prosthetic devices and prescribed medical appliances.

Employers will typically pay medical bills directly and the injured employee will not be required to pay any co-payments or deductibles. An employer can dispute medical treatment, request an independent medical evaluation, request that a nurse case manager attend your medical appointments, conduct a utilization review, and use other means in an attempt to dispute liability for medical bills.

An injured employee may choose his or her own doctor but is limited to only one doctor. However, the employee may see any doctor the employee is referred to by his/her chosen doctor and any doctor referred to within that chain of doctors. The employee may not see another “chain” of doctors without the employer’s approval.

Temporary Total/Partial Disability (TTD/TPD)

Temporary Total Disability (TTD) is compensation for the time that an employee is unable to work as a result of his/her injuries. TTD is calculated at 2/3 of the employee’s Average Weekly Wage (AWW). TTD is not paid for the first 3 lost workdays unless the employee misses 14 or more calendar days due to the injury. Time taken off work for an injury must be according to a doctor’s note.

Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) is compensation for the time that an employee is restricted to light duty and earning less than he/she would earn in the pre-injury job(s). TPD is paid until the worker has returned to his/her regular job or until he/she has reached maximum medical improvement. TPD is calculated at 2/3 of the difference between the average amount the worker would be able to earn in the pre-injury job(s) and the gross amount he or she earns in the light-duty job.

Am I Entitled To Pain And Suffering Under Workers’ Compensation In Illinois?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. This is because the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act does not specifically allow compensation for it, nor for future losses of activities of normal life or future pain and suffering. The Act only allows for a either a percentage loss of use of a body part, or the difference in lost wages up through age 67, or 2/3 of ones weekly pay for life if they are permanently disabled form doing any job.

Can I Choose My Own Doctor In A Workers’ Compensation Case In Illinois?

Absolutely, yes – and you should. Employers may have a dedicated facility that they ask you to go to (their company doctor), but you do not have to go there. Under the Act, you have the right to your own doctor and anyone he/she refers you to. Because of the limitations however, it is important that you get to the right doctor from the beginning. Many doctors do not deal with workers compensation and understand how to navigate through the approvals needed every step of the way. For that reason, its is important that a person consults with an attorney who can aid them in finding the medical care they need from a physician that is familiar with the workers compensation system.

Should I Sign Any Releases Or Medical Authorizations The Insurance Company Asks Me To Sign At The Onset Of My Case?

No, never. Most often after the employer notifies their insurance carrier you were injured on the job, the carrier will contact you and ask that you sign a medical release (in addition to some other documents). Most often, the language in these will allow the insurance company to get medical records going all the way back to your birth. Even worse, they will allow the insurance company to communicate with your doctor and or his/her office via phone calls to get information if needed. None of this is good for you as it allows the insurance carrier to “fish for information” just to try and fight your case. You should never sign something without an attorney reviewing it.

What Is Utilization Review And How Does It Affect My Case?

Utilization review is a process insurance companies use to review proposed physician recommendations to determine if they are reasonable. The medical field is littered with guidelines for reasonableness of medical care. These guidelines provide general standards for all sources of recommended treatment, from physical therapy to injections to even surgery. The insurance company will hire their own doctor to review medical guidelines and determine whether your doctors’ recommendation is reasonable. If the utilization review physician does not believe your doctors recommendation is reasonable, your doctor typically has a short time frame to “appeal” that decision. This is usually done by the doctor making a call to the utilization doctor and having a “peer to peer” conversation. If your doctor can provide more details and/or explain why he/she feels their recommended treatment is reasonable, many times the utilization doctor will thereafter agree to the treatment. If not, the insurance carrier may deny the recommended treatment, in which case you will need an experienced attorney to help fight for the treatment your doctor is proposing.

Am I Entitled To Be Paid For My Travel And/Or Parking Expenses To/From Doctor’s Visits?

Generally, no. The law presumes that you have to be an active participant in your own medical care in order to get better. This means you have a duty to get yourself to/from doctors appointments in order to get better and therefore, the carrier does not bear the burden of having to pay for you to do so. The only time the insurance carrier is required to pay for your transportation is if they require you to go to visit one of their own doctors, called an independent medical physician. If they request this, they must pay a standard IRS mileage rate to/from your address to the doctors’ address.

Can An MRI Show Injuries Missed On An X-Ray?

Yes, an MRI shows much more than an x-ray. An x-ray typically only shows bony structures and can show some soft tissue masses. X-rays use radiation, which can be harmful to the body. They are usually used as a first line view to look for fractures. MRI’s on the other hand use magnetic fields to view deeper into the structures of the body. MRI’s can show spinal, nerve, musculature, tendon and ligament or even blood vessel damage. They are therefore much more useful in determining the extent of a person’s injuries.

Another thing to know is that not all MRI machines are the same. Some machines are stronger and therefore see more things inside the body than others. Understanding what you need to ask your doctor is something our trusted workers’ compensation attorneys can provide you with information about.

Can I Quit My Job If I’m On Workers’ Comp?

We advise against quitting your job. The reason is that if you do so, it could jeopardize your rights to off-work payments if you take yourself out of the workforce. There are times however, where this is not necessarily the case and depends on the circumstance. An attorney from our office could talk this through with you in more detail.

How Long Do I Have To Sue For Work Related Injuries?

In general, you have three (3) years from the date of the accident or two (2) years form the last payment of any medical or time off work benefit in order to file your case with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC). However, we highly recommend you obtain an attorney much sooner. Typically, that attorney will file the claim upon his/her initial representation with you in order to provide notice to the workers’ compensation carrier that you are represented and ultimately seeking benefits for your injuries.

Where Can I Learn More About The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Process?

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC) website has a wealth of information. A good starting point for an injured worker who wants a better understanding of the system is the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission “Handbook on Workers’ Compensation and Occupational Diseases.” The IWCC website also offers a Frequently Asked Questions section.

The best way to make sure you are fully informed of your rights as an injured worker is to discuss your situation with one of our experienced and knowledgeable attorneys.

Reach Out To Our Workers’ Compensation Attorneys In Naperville And Aurora

In a free initial consultation, we will explain the legal processes involved in getting all the compensation you are eligible for after being injured on the job.

To have your name placed on our booking calendar for a consultation, call 630-912-6009 or send an email inquiry. If you would like to forego our initial intake process, we give you the option of completing this form prior to our meeting. We will come to your home, hospital or workplace as is necessary.