Is workers’ compensation in Illinois a subject that interests you? If you live and work in Illinois, and if you have been injured on your job or become ill due to the nature of your job, workers’ compensation in Illinois probably holds great interest for you. You or a friend or loved one may be in a dispute with their employer regarding workers’ compensation benefits, right now.
If this is the case, remember what workers’ compensation is. Workers’ compensation is a kind of business insurance that is provided by your employer that gives you and/or your family benefits in the form of income, medical coverage and rehabilitation in the event that you suffer injury, illness or death as a result of, or in the course of, your job. This is true no matter who is at fault for your injury or illness.
If you were to lose your life on your job, these financial benefits can be given to your surviving spouse and/or children or dependents. These benefits come as a matter of “right” to you or your dependents or survivors. Your employer is not allowed to resort to any legal defense. In return for this, you cannot sue your employer, nor can your spouse and/or children or dependents.
Workers’ compensation laws came about so you would not have to prove that your injuries or illness was the “fault” of your employer. They were also established to reduce the need for litigation. Workers’ compensation laws were first passed in Maryland in 1902. The first federal workers’ compensation law came in 1906. By 1949, every state had passed some form of workers’ compensation law.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) ensures your safety and health on the job at the national level. State laws that vary from state to state complement the national regulations of OSHA.
This is not true regarding workers’ compensation. Each state has its own workers’ compensation laws because there in no national agency to administer workers’ compensation.
The Illinois Department of Labor administers the laws regarding employment and labor in the state. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission operates the state court system for workers’ compensation cases.
Illinois regards workers’ compensation as a no-fault system of benefits paid by employers to workers who experience job-related injuries or diseases. Workers’ compensation in Illinois is mandatory. Employers are required to provide workers’ compensation insurance. No waivers are permitted, but in some instances employers with two or less employees do not have to provide workers’ compensation coverage.
The first workers compensation act in Illinois was passed in 1912. Since that initial act was passed, workers’ compensation laws have been reformed and amended several times. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act was lasted amended in on August 21, 2007. Illinois also refers to workers’ compensation as ‘work comp’ and ‘on-the-job injuries’.
Again, it is important for you to keep in mind that workers’ compensation, with a few exceptions, is required of your employer. Your employer has the option to purchase workers’ compensation coverage from a licensed insurance company, be self-insured or be a part of group self-insurers who have pooled their liabilities.
There are good workers’ compensation benefits in Illinois. These benefits include:
- Choice of physician – You are allowed to choose the first two doctors that you want to treat you. If you choose a third physician without your employer’s approval, your employer is not required to pay for those services.
- Medical benefits – Your employer is required to pay for all medical care that is reasonably necessary to cure or relieve you from the effects of your injury.
- Temporary total disability (TTD) benefits – These are benefits that are paid during the period in which you are either temporarily unable to return to work or you have been released by your doctor to do light-duty work but your employer is unable to accommodate you. The payment amount is based on a percentage of your average weekly wage. This is paid until you have returned to work or finished healing. There are caps on these temporary total disability benefits.
- Temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits – These are benefits that are paid during the period in which you are healing and are working light duty, on a part-time or full-time basis and earning less than during your pre-injury job. Again, the amount is based on a percentage.
- Vocational rehabilitation/maintenance benefits – These benefits include treatment, instruction and training necessary for your physical, mental and vocational rehabilitation when you cannot return to you pre-injury job.
- Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) benefits – These are benefits that are paid if you experience some permanent physical loss. The amount is based on a percentage with caps.
- Permanent Total Disability (PTD) benefits – These are benefits paid to you if you experience the loss of certain body parts, or you are permanently unable to do any kind of work for which there is a reasonably stable employment market. Amounts are again based on percentage with caps.
- Death/Survivors’ benefits – These benefits are payable in the event of your death on the job to your surviving spouse and/or children or dependents. The amount is based on a percentage of your wages. There is also a burial benefit.
- Limited attorney fees – Attorney fees are usually 20% of your settlement.
If you have a dispute with your employer over workers’ compensation benefits because of an injury or illness, your first step is to have your case tried by an arbitrator. The decision of the arbitrator can be reviewed by a panel of three commissioners from the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. Additional appeals can allow a workers’ compensation claim to go all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court. However, the vast majority of claims are not appealed after being reviewed by the commissioners.
Once again, you or a friend or loved one may be currently in a dispute regarding workers’ compensation benefits. You will probably need the help of a legal professional to settle this dispute because of the legal process involved.
The Illinois workers’ compensation attorney that you choose could make all the difference in the world.