Taking the Confusion Out of Common Injury and Estate Planning Worries: Answers to Your Frequent Questions
The most important job for any attorney is making sure that his client understands every aspect of her case. Although some lawyers are comfortable keeping their clients in the dark, we feel that you deserve more. You deserve to have all of your questions and concerns addressed in order to pursue your own case confidently and successfully. This is why we take the initiative to answer common questions that you may have even before you even step into our office. If you don't see your question answered below, please contact our office at 855-522-5291.
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How soon will I receive my Workers' Compensation Settlement?
Many of my workers’ compensation clients ask me, “Once I agree to the settlement of my workers’ compensation case, how long does it take to get the money?”
Generally, it will take 4-8 weeks from the time the agreement is reached until there is money in your hands. Once the settlement is reached, the employers’ attorney will need to draft the settlement contracts.
The contracts are then signed by the attorneys and the employee, and then submitted to the Arbitrator handling the matter for approval. This process can take a few weeks by the time everything is circulated in the mail.
Here’s how it works: Once the arbitrator approves the contracts, the employer’s attorney will order the settlement check from the insurer. The settlement check is generally made payable to you and your attorney’s office. Therefore, you must endorse the check and then the attorney’s office must endorse the check. The funds are then placed in the attorney’s trust account until everyone is sure the check has cleared, a process that can take another two weeks.
Once the check has cleared, the attorney’s office will make the final distribution from its trust account. Further delays can arise if the insurer fails to pay the settlement amount once the contract has been approved by the arbitrator. While there is no deadline under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act which states that the insurer must send the check within a certain time frame, the employer and his insurer can have attorneys’ fees and penalties assessed against them if there is an unreasonable delay in payment. Although everyone is committed to providing you with the funds as soon as possible, the rules of distribution set out by the Illinois Supreme Court tell us that, even though settlement has been reached, it will still take some time before the money is in your hands.
If you have been injured at work, it's important to have a qualified and experienced attorney on your side. Contact us today at 855-522-5291 for a free consultation.
Do I need a lawyer for my workers’ compensation claim?
Injured workers are not required in Illinois or Missouri to retain a lawyer for workers’ compensation claims. However, these cases are legal proceedings, and most employers and insurance companies will have an attorney present at all events.
If an employee is filing a workers’ compensation claim, it means he has been injured or suffered an illness that will affect his ability to work and earn income, potentially for the rest of his life. The outcomes of these cases are legally binding and can seriously affect the future for the injured worker and his family.
Why Hire a Lawyer for an Illinois or Missouri Workers’ Compensation Case
Workers’ compensation cases can be complicated, with laws constantly updating and changing. Additionally, members of the commission and the judge are impartial parties and are forbidden from offering any legal advice. Without an attorney, it is the sole responsibility of the injured employee to:
- File appropriate paperwork
- Track the claim
- Talk with the legal team for the employer or insurance company
- Appear at hearings
- Present evidence to support his case if necessary
An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can handle all these issues for the injured worker while he focuses on recovering from his illness or injury.
Complications That May Require Legal Counsel
Some simple workers’ compensation cases may be resolved quickly if the injury is not severe and little or no time off work was required. However, most cases involve some complication that could make it more difficult for an employee to handle on his own. Officials in both states do suggest retaining an attorney is many situations.
These situations include:
- If an employer denies the claim.
- If the case must go to trial.
- If medical bills are not being paid.
- If the injured worker receives Social Security or qualifies for Medicaid or Medicare.
- If the employer or insurance company offers a settlement contract.
- If the employee has been fired, demoted or harassed at work due to the claim.
- If the injured worker feels at all uncomfortable proceeding with the case.
If you or someone you love has been injured at work, the experienced legal team at the Tapella & Eberspacher Law Firm wants to help. If you are ready to take the next step we invite you to fill out a contact form for a free, no-obligation consultation.
Are companies required to offer workers’ compensation benefits?
Illinois law requires all employers to provide workers’ compensation benefits to employees. Employers can either purchase workers’ compensation insurance from a third party or self-insure, with permission from the state.
The Workers’ Compensation Act Protects Employees
In addition to securing workers’ compensation insurance or approval to self-insure, state law mandates that employers must:
- Post a notice in the workplace naming the insurance carrier and explaining employees’ rights
- Keep records of any workplace injuries and report to the state commission if any injury results in an employee missing more than three days of work
- Not discriminate against an employee in any way for filing a workers’ compensation claim
- Not charge an employee for any premiums the employer pays to workers’ compensation insurance carriers
If employers fail to fulfill these requirements, they could be subject to penalties. Negligent failure to provide benefits is considered a misdemeanor and could result in up to one year in jail and $2,500 in fines. If an employer knowingly fails to provide benefits, it is a felony punishable by up to three years in jail and thousands of dollars in fines.
The employer could also be subject to civil penalties, citations, and even stop-work orders for failing to provide workers’ compensation. Most seriously, the employer could lose the protections of the Workers’ Compensation Act. This means that the injured employee could sue the employer, which is a key protection of the law.
When the Employee Is Not Protected Under Workers’ Compensation
While the law does require companies to provide these benefits, there are situations when an employee is not eligible to receive them. Employers do not have to pay workers’ compensation benefits if:
- The injury or illness is not work related
- The employee does not provide medical information regarding his medical status and fitness to work
- The employee was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the injury
- The injury was the result of horseplay or behavior in violation of company policy
- The injury was sustained by an independent contractor
Laws exist to protect workers and employers from the serious consequences of workplace injuries. If you have been injured at work, the legal team at Tapella Law may be able to help you secure the benefits you deserve. Contact us to chat live with a member of our team.
If I’ve suffered an injury at work, can I get worker’s compensation?
If you suffer an injury at work, your employer may be required to compensate you under workers’ compensation—a type of insurance nearly all employers are required to carry. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system of benefits paid by employers to workers who suffer job-related injuries or illnesses and protects both employees and employers. Employees are able to receive benefits regardless of who was at fault for the injury or illness, while employers are shielded from lawsuits.
Steps to Take When You’re Injured At Work
If you are injured at work, it is important to take action quickly. Here are some guidelines to follow:
- Obtain medical treatment. First, seek medical aid for an injury—even a minor one. In rare cases, minor injuries can develop into more serious problems if they go untreated. Additionally, keep all medical bills related to the injury or illness.
- Report the injury to your employer. Submit notice of the injury to a supervisor. Illinois law states that employees should give notice of the injury as soon as possible, but no later than 45 days after the incident. Workers’ compensation rules only require the employee to offer a written or an oral report of the incident, but some employers may ask for submission of an official accident report.
- Consider hiring an attorney. Workers’ compensation is not a lawsuit; rather, it is a way to file for a benefit, much like a health insurance claim. However, the process can be complicated, and some employers will dispute a worker’s claim. Additionally, there are some exceptions in which the worker is still eligible to sue the employer outside workers’ compensation.
- File a claim with the Commission. Employers will typically provide the paperwork for the injured employee to file a claim with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, as well as information about the program and how to file the claim.
What Constitutes a Work-Related Injury
Workers’ compensation covers work-related injuries and illnesses, but these may not always be caused by an accident or occur at the job site. While workers’ compensation covers an injury from a specific accident, it may also cover repetitive stress injuries and aggravation of an existing condition if caused by the job. Additionally, employees can file a claim for injuries occurring out of the office on work-related errands or on travel for business.
If you were injured at work, you may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Contact the experienced legal team at Tapella Law for a free, no obligation consultation at 855-522-5291.