The Illinois Workers' Compensation Act makes it mandatory for employers to provide their employees with certain benefits after a work injury. In addition to monetary compensation, the law prevents an employer from discriminating against an employee for filing for benefits. This includes termination, harassment, threats, or refusing to rehire an employee after seeking or collecting workers’ compensation.
Coverage and Payments Under Illinois Workers’ Compensation
Workers' compensation insurance should cover any injuries caused by sudden accidents at work, as well as illnesses and repetitive strain injuries that develop over a long period of time. Workers' compensation can even provide for pre-existing conditions made worse by work or sudden events brought on by the rigors of the job (such as heart attacks or strokes).
Your employer should have adequate workers' compensation insurance to cover:
- Medical care. Workers’ compensation is intended to pay for any reasonable and necessary medical treatment related to a work injury. Treatments may include emergency care, surgery, casts and crutches, assistive devices, physical rehabilitation, and ongoing medical appointments.
- Replacement income. Most people are unable to work while they are recovering from an injury. During this time, workers’ compensation provides a fixed payment for wage replacement. The payment is usually two-thirds of the worker's average wage (unless this is higher than the maximum allowable benefit amount). These are known as temporary disability benefits, and are paid once three days of work are missed. If your injury prevents you from working for more than 14 days, you will also be paid for the first three days of lost wages.
- Disability payments. Once you have reached a point of maximum medical improvement, you may be eligible for weekly payments if you have permanent injuries. The amount of permanent disability depends on whether you have a scheduled or unscheduled injury. Scheduled injuries involve permanent damage to the eyes, ears, arms, hands, legs, or feet. State workers’ compensation statutes maintain a list of scheduled injuries that qualify employees for a certain number of weeks of continued benefit payments. Unscheduled injuries are calculated based on your percentage of disability and the reduction in your ability to earn a living. Finally, you can obtain an additional amount of benefits if you have suffered permanent disfigurement.
- Job retraining. Your employer should cover the costs of retraining you for a new position, or even a new career, if you are unable to return to your previous occupation. Costs can include job counseling, education, seminars, and other assistance for injured workers attempting to find new employment. You may also be entitled to a wage differential award to make up the difference between your previous salary and the amount you earn in a new position.
- Survivor benefits. Spouses and dependents of workers who are killed on the job are owed death benefits under workers’ compensation. Survivors may collect two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly wage benefits in addition to $8,000 in funeral and burial expenses if a worker passes away due to a work injury.
What Else Should I Know About Workers' Compensation?
If your employer offers workers' compensation benefits, you will not be able to sue your employer to recover additional payment. However, if someone other than an employer or a coworker played a role in the injury, you may be able to file a lawsuit against that third party to recover payment for additional losses (such as pain and suffering).
You could also have your workers' compensation benefits terminated or reduced if you do not follow your doctors’ treatment recommendations. If your benefits are suspended, you may have to provide medical proof of your injury and treatment in order to compel the insurance company to pay for your medical costs.
If you are struggling after a work injury, you should consult with a qualified workers' compensation attorney as soon as possible. Our legal team can investigate the incident 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.