The worker’s compensation system is the means for resolving claims for compensation the vast majority of work-related injuries occurring in the State of Illinois. There is a statute, the Illinois Worker’s Compensation Act, which sets forth the rights of injured workers and their employers and the means by which claims for compensation are resolved.
Worker’s compensation is a no-fault system. This means that it does not matter whether you, your employer, or a co-worker is to blame for your accident. If you suffered your injury arising out of and in the course of your employment, you are entitled to the benefits provided for by the Worker’s Compensation Act. This also means that you are not entitled to a higher level of benefits because your employer was guilty of some egregious act of negligence which caused your injuries. The issue of fault can be very important when it comes to third-party liability suits, but does not affect your eligibility for worker’s compensation benefits.
There are three main benefits apply in almost every worker’s compensation case. These are (1) payment of your injury-related medical expenses, (2) payment of Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefits in the amount of two-thirds of your average weekly wage while you are off work, and (3) a lump sum settlement for permanency associated with your injury, also known as Permanent Partial Disability (PPD). In some cases where you are unable to return to work at your occupation, you may also be entitled to vocational rehabilitation and a wage differential if you do return to making the same amount of money as you did prior to the injury.
Worker’s compensation claims are started by filing a document called an Application for Adjustment of Claim with an administrative body called the Illinois Worker’s Compensation Commission. There is no filing fee for filing your worker’s compensation claim with the Worker’s Compensation Commission. Once filed, your worker’s compensation claim will be resolved by an arbitrator who will act as the judge for your case. If either side is dissatisfied with the actions of the arbitrator, they can appeal his decisions to the Worker’s Compensation Commission, with further possible appeals to the court system.
Every employer in Illinois is required to carry worker’s compensation insurance or to be certified as a self-insurer. Once you are hurt on the job, the handling of your case will almost always be taken out of the hands of your employer and put in the hands of an adjuster from the insurance company. Even if you have a good working relationship with your employer, you should not expect that to carry over to the handling of your worker’s compensation claim because your employer is no longer controlling how you will be treated after your injury. Instead, it will be handled by an adjuster whose job it is to minimize the total costs of the claim to the insurance company. You should keep that in mind in all of your dealings with the adjuster assigned to handle your case.