Workers’ compensation is paycheck replacement and other benefits for employees who are hurt on the job. Each state, including Illinois, has its own set of laws on the books that creates this system of compensation and makes it mandatory for most employers.
The way it works is that employers carry workers’ compensation insurance. When an employee gets injured, the insurance company pays the worker according to Illinois law. It depends on the type of injury and other details, but in general, an injured employee is entitled to 100% coverage of their medical bills and checks for 2/3 of their wages if they can’t return to work because of their injury. If your injury is serious and/or permanent, you might get a settlement, as well.
There are certain limitations on workers’ compensation. It’s only for employees – not independent contractors or volunteers. Part-time employees are eligible. One of the most important rules is that the injury has to arise out of and in the course of one’s employment, which is a legal way of saying it has to be related to your job or it doesn’t count as a work injury.
Illinois provides workers’ compensation for one-time incidents as well as repetitive trauma. A single incident will have a specific date on which it occurred, such as a fall or a sprain from lifting something heavy. A repetitive trauma is different because it generally occurs over time. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a common example of a repetitive trauma injury, although in some cases it can be triggered by a single event. Typing, working on an assembly line, or anything else that requires you to use your body in the same way time after time can cause repetitive trauma.
Regardless of how it happens, this type of injury should not be ignored. Typical symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (also called CTS) include pain in the wrists and/or numbness or tingling in your fingers. The pain and discomfort can even travel up your arm to your shoulder. It’s important to see a doctor who is very familiar with CTS so that you can avoid misdiagnosis. Your best bet might be an orthopedic hand surgeon. They’ll probably run a test called a EMG to see if you have CTS. If you catch it early, your doctor might prescribe a splint or medication. If you end up needing cortisone injections or surgery, it should be covered under your workers’ compensation benefits. There should be no co-pays our out-of-pocket costs.
Be warned that the insurance company might try to deny your claim. Don’t be discouraged. They might argue that your CTS is caused by something else, such as pregnancy or diabetes, or they’ll claim that typing doesn’t cause CTS. This is how the insurance company works. They make money by denying claims. For this reason, never take the advice of the insurance company. We almost always suggest that you hire an experienced Illinois workers’ compensation attorney and stop talking to the insurance company altogether.
The law requires you to notify your employer of a work injury within 45 days of that injury. If you have CTS, then the date of your injury is likely a range of time. The law says you have 45 days from the date you realized you were injured and that your injury was work related. This might be the date your doctor diagnosed you, for example.
After you report your injury, you might start getting benefits. Another way to start getting benefits is to file a formal claim, called an Application for Adjustment of Claim, with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. You should file a formal claim either way. If you have one on file, you will be one step ahead if you ever need to request a hearing because of some problem with benefits being cut off or medical treatment denied.
Illinois law sets deadlines for filing a claim. Your right to collect benefits ends if you wait too long. You generally have three years from the date of your injury in order to file a claim. As we mentioned, there usually isn’t a specific date on which a repetitive stress injury happened. The important date is that date you realized your injury. If you have received some benefits, then the deadline for filing a claim is two years from the last payment of benefits or the three years from the date of injury, whichever is later. It’s never too early to bring a claim for repetitive trauma. If you wait too long, however, the cause of the injury gets harder to prove.
Workers’ compensation is usually your only option. You can’t sue your employer for a work injury. The workers’ compensation system was set up to take the place of lawsuits. While it’s not always perfect, the system was intended as a compromise. Employees don’t have to wait for a final ruling in a lawsuit to start getting payments and benefits, which could take years. And employers don’t have to worry about getting sued every time an employee gets hurt.
Illinois carpal tunnel attorneys are limited in the fees they can collect to 20% of what they recover for you. Your initial consultation should be free, and your attorney should never take a fee out of your routine benefits. If they are able to get you past benefits that were never paid, or a settlement, then that is when they earn a fee.
If you have questions about whether you are eligible for benefits in Illinois, feel free to contact us. We’ll talk to anyone for free about pretty much any legal issue. Our website was started by Illinois workers’ compensation attorneys. We know how an injury can affect everything, not just your work. The sooner start getting your benefits, the sooner you can start getting your life back.