People deserve compensation for workplace accidents. When are you injured at your workplace–or even at another location while performing job-related duties for your employer–your Illinois worker’s compensation covers you. The purpose of workers’ compensation is simple: to provide no-fault medical and wage replacement benefits for employees harmed in workplace accidents. Since these benefits are “no-fault,” you do not have to prove your employer’s actions or negligence caused the accident in question. Your employer is simply required by law to pay the applicable benefits.
How Does Workers’ Compensation Work in Illinois?
All employers are legally required to provide workers’ compensation. Most companies meet their obligation by purchasing specific workers’ compensation insurance. The employer pays the premiums, and the insurance company actually pays out any benefits. By law, you as the employee cannot be required to pay for workers’ compensation. In other words, your boss cannot “deduct” part of your paycheck to pay workers’ compensation insurance premiums the way they do for Medicare or income taxes.
In some cases, you may work for an employer that has opted to “self-insure” for workers’ compensation purposes. This means the employer is personally obligated to pay out all valid claims. Keep in mind, however, that the State of Illinois must approve any self-insurance arrangements. A company cannot simply decide to stop paying its workers’ compensation insurance premiums and declare it will self-insure in the future.
Indeed, if you have reason to suspect that your employer is not carrying appropriate workers’ compensation insurance or lacks state authorization to self-insure, you should file a complaint with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. In some cases, an employer can be charged with a felony under Illinois law, in addition to civil penalties, for every day it stays in business without appropriate workers’ compensation coverage.
More importantly, if your employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance, it loses the “no-fault” protection of the law. This means that if you are injured in a workplace accident caused by the employer’s negligence, you would then have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit just as you would any other defendant.
How Do I File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Assuming your employer is properly insured, the process of filing a workers’ compensation claim normally begins right after a workplace accident occurs. You should always notify your supervisor as soon as possible following an accident. Legally speaking, you do not have to make a written report–an oral one will suffice–but it is still a good idea to document what happened. If you do need to delay reporting an accident for any reason, such as to seek emergency medical care, understand that in most cases, Illinois law requires you to notify your employer within 45 days after the accident.
Once you report an accident, your employer is required to provide you with any necessary first aid and medical services. The employer will then inform its insurance carrier about the accident, even if it plans to dispute the claim. And if you miss at least 3 days of work following the accident, your employer must either start paying you wage replacement benefits, ask for more information in writing regarding the accident, or give you a written explanation for why it plans to deny benefits.
Your employer’s denial is not the last word. You do have certain rights to challenge an employer’s decisions regarding workers’ compensation. A qualified Rockford workplace accidents attorney can advise you further. Contact the lawyers at Fisk & Monteleone Ltd. today if you need legal representation in connection with an Illinois workers’ compensation claim.