If you are injured on the job, Illinois law says that you get 2/3 of your wages while you are unable to work. If you earn $900 a week, you should get checks for $600 a week. All of your related medical bills should be covered too, and you might get a settlement if your injury is serious of permanent. That’s the simple answer.
The more complicated answer is that you are entitled to these things if you are eligible. You have to be eligible, your injury has to be eligible, you have to notify your employer and see a doctor, and you can’t miss the deadline for filing a claim.
In order to be eligible, you have to be an employee, not an independent contractor (but don’t take your employer’s word for it – it’s fairly common to be mislabeled). Most importantly, your injury has to arise out of and in the course of your employment. This means that you have to be doing your job, or at least something for the benefit of your employer, when you got hurt. Also, the injury has to be related to your job. A random heart attack at work is not covered.
Illinois law requires injured workers to notify their employer within 45 days in order to be eligible for benefits. There also is a statute of limitations, or deadline, for filing a claim. A claim is a formal request for benefits and is filed with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. You might start getting benefits without a formal claim, but we suggest filing one anyway just in case. The outside limit on a claim is three years from the date of injury or two years from the last payment of benefits. There are some exceptions.
Always get medical attention after an accident at work, and explain to your doctor how you were injured. Your doctor’s opinion matters, especially if the insurance company tries to argue that your injury does not qualify as a work injury.
Although 2/3 of your wages might seem simple to calculate, it’s more complicated if your pay isn’t regular. Also, there are minimum and maximum amounts set by law. Sometimes, an employee can still work in a different position but it doesn’t pay as much. If this happens to you, you may be able to get 2/3 of the difference. If you suspect that your benefits aren’t being calculated properly or if you’ve been denied, talk to an Illinois workers’ compensation attorney. The insurance company that pays your benefits is more concerned about their bottom line than making sure you’re fully compensated.
Written by Michael Helfand