If you have been injured while on the job, it is possible that you qualify for benefits under the workers’ compensation program. These benefits are often very important for individuals who are unable to work due to their injury or illness. Employers in Illinois are subject to numerous requirements relating to workers’ compensation. When disputes between employers and employees arise, the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (Commission) may be used to settle those conflicts.
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system in which benefits are paid by employers to employees who suffer from work-related injury or serious illness. In some cases, disputes regarding the payment of these benefits arise between an employer and an employee. When this occurs, the Commission provides a method of resolving those disputes through an arbitration process. Arbitration involves both parties stating their case to a neutral, third-party, who then issues a ruling on the issue. The initial decision of the arbitrator may be appealed to a panel of three commissioners. Additional appeals may be brought in the traditional court system. However, most issues are resolved by settlement, thereby avoiding arbitration or litigation altogether.
In order to begin a claim with the Commission, an employee must file three copies of the Application for Adjustment of Claim along with Proof of Service stating that a copy of the application was served on the employer. After this has been completed, a case number and arbitrator are assigned to the case. Every three months, the case is set for a status call, at which time either party may request a trial. This will continue for three years. If no trial is requested after three years, the arbitrator may dismiss the case.
The trial will resolve the dispute between the employer and employee. At the trial, the employee must demonstrate items like the existence of an employment relationship and that an injury occurred in relation to his or her work. While it is not necessary, many employees elect to hire an attorney to represent them. An attorney can help keep track of the claim, appear with an employee at hearings, and present evidence to prove the employee’s eligibility for benefits. Importantly, the Commission cannot recommend an attorney for an employee.
Benefits of Workers’ Compensation
Under the workers’ compensation system, employers are responsible for paying benefits when an eligible employee is injured on the job. Most employers decide to purchase workers’ compensation insurance. By purchasing insurance, employers can pay a premium and when a claim is made, the insurance company pays the employee on the employer’s behalf. Alternatively, an employer may elect to self-insure, which makes it their responsibility to pay eligible employees.
There are numerous benefits provided to employees under workers’ compensation, including:
1. Medical care reasonably necessary in order to cure or relieve the employee of the effects of the injury or illness;
2. Temporary total disability benefits while the employee is unable to work, recovering from the injury;
3. Temporary partial disability benefits while the employee is working light duty for less compensation while recovering from the injury;
4. Vocational rehabilitation or maintenance benefits for injured employees participating in an approved vocational rehabilitation program;
5. Permanent partial disability benefits for employees who suffer permanent disability or disfigurement, but are still able to work;
6. Permanent total disability benefits for employees who suffer permanent disability or disfigurement and are unable to work; and/or
7. Death benefits for a deceased employee’s surviving family members.
For more information about the workers’ compensation program, including ways in which legal representation can help you recover, you should talk to an experienced Illinois personal injury attorney. Our attorneys represent individuals from areas such as Buffalo Grove, Schaumburg, and Inverness.
About the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.