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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What are the penalties if an employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance?
The State of Illinois requires all public or private employers with at least one employee to secure valid workers’ compensation insurance to cover job-related injuries. If the employer does not obtain coverage, the business itself may face steep fines and closed doors, while the corporate officers may be held personally liable for damages.
Penalties for Employers Without Illinois Workers’ Compensation Insurance
One of the most important consequences for employers who fail to provide workers’ compensation coverage is the loss of the exclusive remedy protection. Under workers’ compensation law, employees are forbidden from suing an employer in exchange for benefits. However, if the employer did not secure workers’ compensation coverage, the employee is free to file a lawsuit directly against the employer. In addition, employers named in these lawsuits cannot use certain defenses (such as negligence of a co-employee) and the burden is on the employer to show freedom of negligence relating to the injury.
In addition to legal liability, employers who fail to obtain workers’ compensation coverage in Illinois may face:
- Work stoppage. Investigators with the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission (IWCC) Insurance Compliance Division can issue a work-stop order on an employer for failure to secure workers’ compensation insurance. IWCC can request the intervention of state law enforcement to prevent any employee from occupying the place of employment until proof of insurance is provided and the work-stop order is lifted.
- Criminal charges. Illinois law allows individuals such as corporate officers, directors, partners, and members of an employer limited liability company to be charged with criminal acts and face personal liability for failing to provide workers’ compensation coverage. Individuals who knowingly violate the insurance requirement may be found guilty of a Class 4 felony, while those who negligently fail to provide coverage may be charged with a Class A misdemeanor.
- Fines. IWCC investigators may issue citations to employers for insurance non-compliance in an amount between $500 and $2,500, which must be paid in addition to providing proof of valid workers' compensation insurance. If the employer does not comply with the citation, the Commission may assess a civil penalty of up to $500 per day for each day without insurance, with a minimum fine of $10,000.
If you have suffered a work injury in Illinois, we can help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact the experienced workers' compensation attorneys at Tapella & Eberspacher today at (855) 522-5291 or fill out our online contact form to schedule your free consultation.
Do out-of-state employers have to provide Illinois workers’ compensation insurance if they have an employee in Illinois?
In most cases, yes. Although workers’ compensation laws vary from state to state, Illinois requires all companies with at least one employee in the state to be covered under Illinois workers’ compensation requirements. As long as the employee is not exempt from workers’ compensation benefits, the out-of-state employer is required to include Illinois-compliant benefits on its insurance policy.
When Out-of-State Employers Need Illinois Workers’ Compensation Coverage
Under Illinois law, an employer must purchase valid Illinois workers’ compensation insurance to cover:
- Remote employees who live in Illinois. An out-of-state employer must cover employees in Illinois, even if there is only one employee in Illinois and the company and all other employees are located in a different state.
- Employees whose majority of work takes place in Illinois. A company that is headquartered in another state but has a satellite office or factory in Illinois must provide workers’ compensation insurance that includes Illinois coverage.
- Business operations in Illinois. Out-of-state companies that conduct regular business in Illinois must provide a workers' compensation insurance policy that includes Illinois coverage, even if all workers reside in the same state as the company.
- Employees hired in Illinois. Any workers whose employment contracts were entered into in Illinois must be covered by Illinois workers’ compensation insurance.
- Work-related injuries that occur in Illinois. If an employee from an out-of-state company is injured while doing a work-related task in Illinois, he or she has the right to file a workers’ compensation claim in Illinois.
If you are eligible for Illinois workers’ compensation coverage, you have a right to collect benefits for an on-the-job injury regardless of where it occurs. Contact the experienced workers' compensation attorneys at Tapella & Eberspacher today at (855) 522-5291 or fill out our online contact form to schedule your free consultation.
How long do I have to be employed to be eligible for workers’ comp?
While there are many things that can affect eligibility for Illinois workers’ compensation benefits, the length of employment generally isn’t one of them. Coverage is guaranteed on whether you are a non-exempt employee, so if you are covered, you qualify for benefits whether you have worked for an employer for 10 years or 10 days. However, there are some instances where workers’ compensation coverage can exist in a gray area—and insurers may wrongfully deny payment if employees don’t know their rights.
Non-Work Situations in Which Workers’ Compensation May Apply
If you are injured on your employer’s premises while performing your regular job duties, filing a workers’ compensation claim is usually straightforward. Unfortunately, those injured before or after a shift or away from the work environment may be required to prove the validity of their claims—and may be denied medical and wage loss benefits if they are unable to do so.
Some cases where it may be more difficult to get workers’ compensation benefits include injuries that occur:
- Off the clock. If you are attending an orientation or training session before your workday begins, or are injured on work premises before or after clocking out, you are likely still covered by workers’ compensation.
- Traveling to or from work. In most cases, daily commutes are not covered by workers’ compensation. However, if the employee was performing a work-related task as part of the commute (such as making a pickup or delivery), workers’ compensation covers the journey.
- Away from the main working environment. Injuries suffered outside the office, job site, or regular work location may be covered if they are in any way associated with the duties and performance of your job. This can include mandatory meetings as well as sponsored events like company picnics.
- Under coverage of multiple benefit providers. Some employees may be covered by more than one work injury compensation program, especially if they work in an occupation that involves the overlap of federal and state injury laws.
The important thing to remember is that workers’ compensation coverage applies to any injury that is work-related—no matter when or where it occurs. If you have been injured on the job, contact the experienced workers' compensation attorneys at Tapella & Eberspacher today at (855) 522-5291 or fill out our online contact form to schedule your free consultation.
What if my employer is retaliating against me for filing a workers’ compensation claim?
Workers' compensation laws do not only guarantee medical and lost wage payments to injured employees, they also prevent employees from being discriminated against for collecting benefits. If an employer is found guilty of discrimination, the employer can lose the “exclusive remedy” protection of workers' compensation, allowing the employee to directly sue the employer for damages.
Common Forms of Employer Retaliation in a Workers’ Compensation Case
The Illinois workers’ compensation system protects employees from many adverse actions in the workplace as a result of filing a benefits claim. The law protects injured employees from discrimination immediately after the injury occurs, covering them from adverse employment actions even before the formal workers' compensation claim is filed.
Common ways an employer may punish an employee for filing a claim include:
- Discharge. Terminating or laying off employees who exercise their rights under workers' compensation laws is expressly forbidden. This is known as "retaliatory discharge,” and is grounds for an employee to bring a civil action against his or her employer.
- Disciplinary action. Employees cannot be placed on leave or denied wages as a result of filing a benefits claim.
- Demotion. An employee who is forced out of his role or into another position may have a valid discrimination claim.
- Harassment. Employers may be guilty of retaliation if they discourage an employee from filing a claim, threaten termination, or otherwise harass the employee.
- Salary reduction. Employers may retaliate by forcing the employee to sacrifice sick hours, paid time off, pension benefits, and other earnings.
If you believe that your employer has unjustly terminated or discriminated against you for filing a workers' compensation claim, you may be able to sue your employer for lost wages, pain and suffering, and punitive damages. In many cases, employers will often attempt to claim that the reason for the retaliation is unrelated to the filing of the claim. However, the law states that employees still have a valid claim if collecting workers’ compensation benefits was not the sole reason for the discharge.
Our experienced workers' compensation attorneys can evaluate your case and advise you on your next steps at no cost to you. Contact Tapella & Eberspacher today at (855) 522-5291 or fill out our online contact form to schedule your free consultation.
How can I verify that my employer has workers’ compensation insurance?
Employees, contractors, and all other parties can easily verify if an employer has workers’ compensation in Illinois. The Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission (IWCC) has provided a searchable online database of employers and their workers' compensation insurance policies. If your employer and insurer are not listed, you may be able to take action.
Why an Illinois Employer May Be Missing From the IWCC Database
While the IWCC database allows free access to workers’ compensation information for each company, some employers may not be listed in the database. For example, a company may not be listed if it is:
- Based in another state. Out-of-state employers may not be listed on the statewide database, but that does not mean they are exempt from providing workers’ compensation insurance. Even if an employer’s headquarters is in another state, the company is required to secure workers’ compensation for employees who live and work in Illinois.
- Self-insured. Illinois employers are allowed to provide self-insured coverage, meaning that payment for work injuries is provided directly from the company rather than a third-party insurer. Although employees in these cases must pursue a work injury claim internally, the employer is required to provide coverage similar to the benefits included in state workers’ compensation laws. If employees are having trouble securing injury payments from a self-insured employer, they can file a complaint with the Illinois Division of Insurance and may have grounds to file a lawsuit.
- Committing fraud. Some employers knowingly violate the workers' compensation insurance requirement by failing to secure coverage or lying about the policy information. The IWCC has the ability to investigate and report companies who do not have coverage according to law, so employees should communicate any coverage concerns to the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission.
Work injury claims in Illinois can quickly become complicated, especially for employees who are still struggling to overcome the effects of an injury. Our experienced workers' compensation attorneys can explain your options and advise you on your next steps at no cost to you. Contact Tapella & Eberspacher today at (855) 522-5291 or fill out our online contact form to schedule your free consultation.
Is workers’ compensation state or federal law?
Most Illinois employees are covered under state workers' compensation statutes. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act requires all public or private employers, state agencies, firms, school districts, and cities and villages that have any person in service to provide workers’ compensation coverage—even those with only one employee. However, there are a few exceptions depending on the job description and the work performed.
Exemptions to Illinois State Workers Compensation Laws
Illinois workers who are not covered under state workers' compensation may qualify for benefits through a federal law. On the other hand, some residents may be exempt from both forms of workers’ compensation, and may have to file a lawsuit to receive payment for a work-related injury.
For example, state workers’ compensation benefits do not apply to:
- Federal employees. Postal workers and other U.S. government employees can collect medical costs, wage replacement, vocational retraining, and disability benefits through the Federal Employees' Compensation Act.
- Chicago police officers. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act covers all police officers and firefighters in cities with fewer than 500,000 people. As a result, Chicago firefighters and police officers will have to seek payment under the Illinois Pension Code, the Public Safety Employee Benefits Act (PSEBA), and other legislation.
- Real estate brokers. State law specifically bars real estate brokers, salesman, or any person performing real estate services who is paid by commission only from collecting workers’ compensation.
- Independent contractors. Independent contractors are not considered employees under state law, and are therefore ineligible for workers’ compensation. However, just because your employer has classified you as an independent contractor does not mean you are exempt from benefits.
- Farm workers. Many farm workers are exempt from workers’ compensation benefits, but some may be eligible for payments depending on the nature of their employment.
If you have been injured on the job, we can examine the facts of your case and advise you on your next steps at no cost to you. Contact the Illinois workers' compensation attorneys at Tapella & Eberspacher today at (855) 522-5291 or fill out our online contact form to schedule your free consultation.
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?”
4-8 Weeks is a General Guideline for Workers' Compensation Settlements
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.
How The Workers' Compensation Payment Process Works
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 the settlement has been reached, it will still take some time before the money is in your hands.
Do You Need a Workers' Compensation Attorney to Help With Your Claim?
If You have been injured at work, It's important to have a qualified and experienced workers' compensation attorney on your side. Contact Tapella & Eberspacher 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 or she 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 Workers' Compensation Lawyer for an Illinois or Missouri On-the-Job Injury 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. If you don't hire a workers' compensation lawyer, then it becomes your responsibility to:
- File appropriate paperwork,
- Track the claim's status,
- 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 lawyer 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 Illinois and Missouri suggest retaining an attorney in many situations.
Scenarios Where a Workers' Compensation Attorney Is Helpful:
- 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.
Ready to Learn More? Talk to Our Workers' Comp Lawyers for Free
If you or someone you love has been injured at work, the experienced workers' compensation attorneys at the Tapella & Eberspacher Law Firm want 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
Our Workers' Comp Lawyers Are Here to Protect You After an Accident
Laws exist to protect workers and employers from the serious consequences of workplace injuries. If you have been injured at work, you need a workers' compensation attorney to defend your rights. 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. You need a workers' compensation attorney from Tapella Law. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation at 855-522-5291.