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At first glance, workers’ compensation seems like a straightforward concept. If an employee gets hurt at work, they should get money to pay for their medical care and time off of work. But in reality, it is quite often not that clear cut. Workers’ compensation claims in Illinois can be very complex. The specifics regarding the accident, injury, and resulting medical care are critical. Details matter.
We get calls, chats and emails every day from people asking, “Do I have a workers’ compensation case?” Here are some of the questions we ask to determine if they do or don’t have a case.
Where were you injured? We need to know the exact location. In what city and state did the injury occur? We are Illinois lawyers, so we need to verify that the injury occurred in the state of Illinois. However, if you were traveling for work in a location outside of Illinois, but your employer is based in Illinois, you might still have a case. Another reason why we need to know the city/county is because the best attorney for a workers’ compensation case in the city of Chicago might not be the best attorney for a workers’ compensation case in Decatur or Belleville. Things have changed a bit with online hearings due to Covid, but we still take in to account how many cases a lawyer has in your area before recommending them.
How were you hurt at work? What is your injury?We always ask for the details of the injury. Tell us exactly what happened. Was it a repetitive motion injury (e.g., carpal tunnel syndrome)? Or was it a singular accident (e.g., strained back while lifting a box, slip and fall, incident involving machinery or a vehicle)? Falls at work have to usually be the result of some risk such as a wet floor, running to a meeting, etc. A pre-existing condition doesn’t bar you from bringing a case, but could be a possible defense. Facts matter.
When did the accident occur?There are statutes of limitations for workers’ compensation claims in Illinois: three years from the accident date or two years from the last payment of compensation, whichever is longer. If you don’t formally file a case in time, it will be barred.
Have you reported the injury to your boss/employer?This is critical and seems like a no-brainer. But some people say, “I like my boss and company. I didn’t report it because I don’t want to sue them.” A workers’ compensation case is a claim against your employer’s insurance, you wouldn’t be suing them. You have to report your injury on a timely basis. If not done within 45 days of when you knew or should have known you sustained a work injury, you can lose your rights.
Have you gotten medical care?A big piece of a workers’ compensation claim is proving that you are, indeed, injured. The way to do that is to see a doctor, explain what happened and proceed with the care/treatment plan that they recommend.
The bottom line is, day in and day out, we communicate with people who have work injuries. Since 2001, we have helped tens of thousands of people with workers comp questions. We can tell you rather quickly whether or not you have a case worth pursuing and recommend the best lawyer for your case.. If you would like to talk to an attorney for free about a possible case, please call us any time at 312-346-5320 or fill out our contact form and we will call you.