On average we talk to 8-10 people a day who have been hurt on the job and have Illinois workers’ compensation legal questions. We hear a lot of the same things over and over. Here is a list of ten things that we think everyone should know about Illinois work comp law.
- It’s a no fault law. Unless you are drunk or reckless (e.g. you jump off a roof for fun instead of using a ladder), your fault doesn’t matter if you get hurt at work. You don’t have to prove the company was negligent and they aren’t off the hook if you are careless.
- Lawyer fees are 20% and don’t exceed that amount without special circumstances. If an attorney asks you for any money up front you should not hire them.
- 100% of your medical bills should be paid for any treatment that is reasonable and related to your job injury. No co-pays, no out of pocket expenses.
- The insurance company and your employer can not talk directly to your doctor and they should not be in your medical appointments. This includes any nurse case managers. Don’t let them schedule your appointments either. They have a right to get a copy of your medical records and bills. That’s it.
- Any lawyer who tells you what your case is worth right after you’ve been hurt is probably full of it and telling you that just to try and get you to sign up with them. No way to tell you for certain what the case is worth until you are finished with medical care and at maximum medical improvement.
- The value of your case is determined in part based on the severity of your injury, how it will affect you in the future, the medical care you have, how much money you were earning when hurt, your age, the job you can return to, whether or not you have any work restrictions and the need for future medical care.
- If you don’t want to sue your employer you are in luck. Workers’ compensation cases in Illinois are not lawsuits, but instead are claims for benefits like any other insurance claim. There is no Judge or lawsuit although if you aren’t receiving payment we would go to arbitration on your behalf.
- Your employer can drug test you after an accident. If you test positive it creates a “rebuttable presumption” that the drugs caused the accident. You can overcome this based on the facts of how you got injured and witness testimony.
- You need to provide notice to your employer within 45 days of when you knew or should have known your injury was work related. The sooner you report it, the better and do so in writing. You don’t want to lose a case on a technicality.
- You can switch attorneys if yours isn’t doing the job and it won’t cost you anything. Lawyer fees can’t exceed 20%. The new firm and old firm will have to work it out to split the 20% but it won’t affect your bottom line at all.
And of course if you have any questions about Illinois law, call us any time at (312) 346-5320 or fill out our contact form. It’s free, confidential and we cover all of Illinois.