Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Rockford, IL
If you are an employee in Illinois, you should feel comfortable bookmarking this page as your go-to informational source on workers’ compensation law. Consider this a compendium of resources gathered with decades of experience in work comp cases. Within this page, you’ll find information about the frequency of workplace injuries, the types of workplace injuries that occur, what you should do if injured at your job, and how the process of claiming compensation for your injuries or illnesses work. MacCloskey Kesler & Associates have recovered settlements for thousands of injured clients since 1998, so you can trust us as an authority on this topic.
Workplace Injury Statistics
Every single day people are injured while working. Injuries range from repetitive motion aches that can last a lifetime, to traumatic incidents like broken bones that heal relatively quickly. Illnesses also occur from going to work, and while they may be harder to prove – you may receive benefits for them as well. Psychiatric injuries also occur, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), from a traumatic injury as well as stress-related issues like depression and severe anxiety. The National Safety Council reports that people sustain workplace injuries every seven seconds, with roughly 7 million injuries annually.
The most common types of worker injuries are:
- Sprains, tears, strains – These types of injuries happen to ligaments and muscles from twisting, rolling, and overworking.
- Soreness or back pain – For employees that either sit in office chairs for long hours every day or do heavy repetitive lifting, soreness is the number one injury complaint.
- Cuts or punctures – Sharp objects are in use every day across America, being cut or poked deeply at work is a common injury.
The most frequent types of accidents to cause injuries are:
- Overexertion – Lifting an object that is too heavy for the worker, or repetitively lifting something too many times causes injury.
- Hit by an object – Being struck by something, like a worker being hit by a forklift or something falling on them, is a common accident.
- Slip and fall – Unnatural accumulation of slippery material causes many workplace injuries.
Professions that suffer the most frequent workplace injuries are:
- Construction – Builders and trade workers are often injured.
- Transportation – Drivers, delivery workers, and warehouse workers are injured all the time.
- Industrial – Manufacturing workers suffer many work-related injuries.
- Public service – Policemen, firefighters, EMTs are frequently prone to accidents.
- Repairperson – Maintenance, janitorial, and repair are professions that are at higher risk of getting hurt at work.
What are the workers’ compensation laws?
Now that we understand how injuries happen, the types of injuries that are occurring, and who is at the most significant risk of injury, we need to discuss a workers’ right to a safe job environment.
The duties of the states
Since 1911, workers’ rights have fallen upon the individual states to be protected. Each state’s work comp law is different, but the emphasis on the law is that workplaces must have safety training, first aid training, signage indicating safety standards and hazards, defensive driver training, and employers must have insurance for employees against those injuries that take place at work. Workers’ Compensation Insurance is, by definition, a benefit paid to an injured employee in exchange for a no-fault guarantee that the employee will not seek tort damages. Sometimes, an employer attempts to dispute the injured employee; therefore, no benefits are paid. This battle is where a workers’ compensation lawyer steps in. Beyond the benefits themselves, which are paid by an insurer, injured employees may be able to show negligence by the employer to provide a safe workplace and seek financial compensation, lost wages, and medical bills from the employer.
Federal employees workers’ compensation rights
The U.S. Department of Labor has four major disability programs called the Office of Workers Compensation Programs that provide benefits to any federal employee and their dependents. So, if you work for the U.S. Government in any capacity (governmental branch such as the IRS or U.S. Postal Service), please visit the links embedded above to learn about your benefits. However, the purpose of this guide is to inform Illinoisans of their workers’ compensation rights, since we at MacCloskey Kesler and Associates are an Illinois based firm.
Illinois Workers’ Compensation Laws
The State of Illinois requires employers to pay insurance policies for every employee that works for them. The amount paid is a small fraction of the employee’s wages and based on the sector for which an employee works. For example, Illinois employers have to pay an average of $2.32 per $100 of payroll, but changes in each industry. This insurance policy covers benefits paid to injured employees, even those with pre-existing conditions that are exacerbated by employment. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act covers all injuries that take place during employment; however, specific injuries that are not covered include the following:
- Self-inflicted injuries – Including the person who starts a physical altercation.
- Criminal activities – If someone was committing a crime like theft at work and is hurt while working, no benefit is paid.
- Not present – If an employee was not physically at work and is injured, there are no benefits.
- Violation of company policy – Injuries suffered during the violation of the work’s rulebook, for example, provides no benefits.
What benefits are paid in Illinois?
Depending on the severity of the injury, workers are entitled to compensation in the following ways:
- Medical expenses – Any doctor, hospital, or rehabilitation costs are paid.
- Temporary disability – If an injured employee cannot return to work temporarily, they are entitled to two-thirds of their average weekly gross wages until they recover.
- Partial permanent disability – If a worker returns to work in a light-duty capacity while recovering from a temporary disability, but is permanently disabled to some effect, they are entitled to two-thirds of the difference between their pre-injury average weekly gross income and the new light-duty average weekly gross income until recovery.
- Permanent disability – If a worker loses a limb or permanent function of a part of their body, they are entitled to permanent total disability.
- Retraining costs – If a worker can longer perform a function of their job, but the employer finds another position for them, any retraining costs or certifications are paid.
What steps should an injured employee take?
At MacCloskey Kesler and Associates, we recommend notifying your employer of a workplace accident, injury, or illness the day of the incident. To properly file an incident report, you must give notice within 45 days of the incident, but human memory is imperfect, and the sooner you report the facts, the better. Take the following steps immediately after your workplace injury:
- Seek medical attention – No matter the type of injury you sustain, consulting a medical professional is the first step. Pain is strange and may fluctuate over time. You may also have injuries you don’t know about like a concussion after being hit by an object. Tell your employer you were injured, and that you need medical attention.
- Put your incident in writing – Provide written notice to your employer with specific facts about your injury. Do not attempt to place blame or editorialize the incident in any way. Adjudicators, attorneys, and possibly police are in charge of sorting out the facts – it is not your job to determine fault. The written notice should include name, a brief description of the incident, and contact information, along with any photographs you may be able to take.
- Receive benefits – At this point, the insurer provides benefits to the injured employee. It would be best if you did everything precisely as prescribed. If that means rehabilitation, medication, rest, and recovery, then do so.
- File a claim – If the insurer fails to provide you with benefits, you must file a claim with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. It is your responsibility – not your employers – to file. There are no fees to file your claim, and you must prove you deserve benefits within your claim. Within your filings, you will be asked to provide the date of the occurrence, the accident with caused or aggravated the injury or illness, and that you provided notice within the time limits.
- A dispute between employer and employee – If there is a dispute between employer and employee, then an arbitrator with the IWCC conducts a trial and forms a decision within 60 days of filing. These legal proceedings are very complicated, and each case is different. We recommend contacting legal services very early in this process, so you have the support required to compete with insurance companies and employers.
What is the difference between Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury claims?
There are two main differences between a workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury lawsuit.
- No fault is required for a workers’ compensation claim. Other than the reasons mentioned above (such as self-inflicted injury or unlawful acts causing injury), any injury that occurs can reward work comp benefits. A fault is required for a personal injury case to win. Say negligence of an employer to provide safety equipment, or an unnatural accumulation of snow and ice forms from lousy/improperly maintained drainage and an employee slips and falls.
- Workers’ compensation claims do not award pain and suffering. You only receive lost wages, medical expenses, and possibly permanent disability.
It is for a judge or arbitrator to decide whether or not a workers’ compensation claim is payable. It is for your legal team to help you decide which path best suits your injury claim. As you can tell, being injured at your workplace is very complicated, and it would be best to contact us right away if you’ve been hurt. You can reach us at (815) 965-2000, and your case review is entirely free. At MacCloskey Kesler and Associates, we fight for your rights.