When a worker in Illinois is injured in the course of his or her employment, his or her employer by law has certain obligations toward that injured worker.
First: The employer is obligated to pay for the medical treatment and medications necessary to heal the injured worker and relieve the pain associated with the injuries.
Second: The employer is obligated to pay 66 2/3% of the injured workers average wage for the time that he or she is unable to work as a result of the injury. This can be thought of as lost income.
Third: Once the injured worker is healed, and returns to work, the employer is obligated to pay him or her a sum of money to compensate him or her for the loss of use of the injured body part. This can be thought of as loss of future income.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need an attorney?
Most employers will pay medical expenses and 66 2/3% of wages during periods of disability to an injured worker without an attorney. The attorney is needed in cases involving more serious injuries where compensation for permanency is in order.
How much time do I have to file a formal claim?
The time within which a claim must be filed is two to three years depending on how long the worker was off of work due to the injury and how long the medical treatment lasted. It is best to file as soon as possible.
What does the attorney do?
The attorney determines when, where, and how the injury occurred. He then makes sure the employer has notice of the injury as soon as possible but not more than 45 days after the injury. The attorney then acts as a “go between” for all communications between the employer and the injured worker. This allows the attorney to make sure the worker is getting all treatment that is necessary and proper, and where applicable, the 66 2/3% of his or her average wage.
Then when the worker returns to work and reaches maximum medical improvement, the attorney begins negotiations with the employer to arrive at a fair and reasonable amount of money to settle the employer’s obligation to compensate the worker for the permanency associated with his or her injury.
How much does it cost and how is the attorney paid ?
The attorney works on a contingent fee of 20% of the amount recovered. This means that the injured worker does not have to pay anything unless and until the case is successfully concluded. The 20% usually applies to the money paid to the worker to settle the permanency aspect of his or her claim. Only if the employer disputes the worker’s right to some portion of the medical expense, or 66 2/3% of his or her average wage during a period of disability, the 20% may apply to money recovered on those aspects of the claim. In other words the amount the employer voluntarily pays for medical and disability are not subject to the attorney’s 20% fee.
Can I get fired or demoted for initiating a worker’s compensation claim?
No, the Illinois Worker’s Compensation Act specifically prohibits any such action by an employer in retaliation for initiating a Worker’s Compensation claim. The worker acting with an attorney in pursuit of his or her claim has the best chance of affording him or herself the full protection of the ACT.