It's the holiday season and everyone is making lists. Since it's my main practice area, I decided to make a list of 50 random things to know about Illinois workers' compensation law. If you have any questions about this or anything else, please do not hesitate to contact me at any time.
1. Almost all workers are covered under Illinois workers compensation law. The big exception are Federal workers and most Chicago cops and farm workers.
2. Workers hired in Illinois but injured while working in another state are covered under Illinois law.
3. Illinois workers comp does will not assign fault in the accident at work. Payment and medical costs related to the on the job injury will be paid for regardless of who caused the accident unless you were engaging in horse play or taking risks not related to the job.
4. Independent contractors are not covered under workers comp.
5. Just Because your employer calls you an independent contractor doesn't mean you are one.
6. All injury claims are processed through the Illinois Workers Compensation Commission.
7. Workers comp claims are not lawsuits. They are a claim for benefits.
8. Illinois workers comp laws change constantly, mostly due to interpretation of the law by Judges.
9. Attorneys who exclusively handle work injury cases give you the best chance for success in your case.
10. There is no guarantee you’ll win your case if you hire a lawyer that is exclusively work comp, but just as you'd want a back surgeon who only does back surgeries, you want a lawyer who is just work comp.
11. Workers comp attorneys can only be paid on a contingency fee basis, e.g. no fee unless they win. Never give a work comp lawyer a penny.
12. Every case starts with an Application For Adjustment of Claim which is filed with the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission.
13. There are time limits/statute of limitations for any work injury. The minimum time to be safe to formally file your case is three years from the accident date.
14. Although you can wait to formally file your case, the sooner you do it, the higher priority you have for getting a hearing before an Arbitrator if you ever need one.
15. In some cases when you are too injured to go back to work, workers comp will pay for your retraining or to go back to school. This is called vocational rehabilitation.
16. Pain and suffering is not considered into the amount recovered if you are injured on the job.
17. Pre-existing conditions will not exclude you from receiving benefits.
18. You must go to the doctor and receive a dr’s note excusing you from work after an injury if you want to be paid for your time off of work.
19. You don’t need health insurance to make a claim. Workers comp is there to pay for your medical bills after you’ve been injured.
20. The money you receive for a settlement is tax free.
21. Cases should not be settled until the conclusion of medical treatment.
22. You are absolutely allowed to switch attorneys in the middle of your case.
23. Quitting your job in the middle of a workers comp case is often a bad idea that could cost you money. Don't do it without asking a lawyer first.
24. If you have an active workers comp case, no doctor or hospital can legally take you collections over bills due or put something on your credit report.
25. There is no set value for what any one case is “worth” because circumstances are always different.
26. There are no side deals in workers comp. all details of the settlement must be written in the contract.
27. Winning a trial comes down to credibility so if you are lying to your doctor or testify in an inconsistent manner, you could lose even when you are in the right.
28. Using your own private insurance to cover a workers comp injury could cause excess co-pays and out of pocket expenses as well as future costs once the insurance company finds out workers comp should have paid.
29. If a pain medication addiction occurs due to prescriptions received while on workers comp, the rehab to stop the addiction could be covered as well.
30. All businesses must have workers comp insurance. Including those which are non-profit. Not having it is a felony.
31. A company cannot fire you for pursuing a workers comp claim.
32. It's legal for the insurance company to hire a surveillance company to follow you and film you.
33. Your workers comp will be denied if you are drunk or on drugs at the time of your accident, but you can appeal that if you can show that it had nothing to do with how you got hurt.
34. It's not mandatory for the insurance company to make a settlement offer, but you can get one by going to trial.
35. Nurse case managers for the insurance company should not talk to your doctor or interfere with your care.
36. Workers comp could be affected by what you post on social media, so keep your pages private, don't accept unknown friend requests and don't post about your case.
37. If you are injured leaving the office, after you’ve already clocked out, you still may have a case. Same is true if you get hurt on company property or doing company business before you clock in.
38. You choose the doctor that you treat with although the insurance company can send you to a doctor for a one time exam.
39. Your employer can't make you use sick or vacation days for time missed due to a work accident.
40. Exposure to radiation on the job can cause cancer, which in turn can be covered by workers comp.
41. The time a case takes to end depends on how much medical care you need. Some cases are done in weeks, some take months, some take years. On average most cases seem to resolve in 12-18 months.
42. Catastrophic workers comp injuries could result in medical benefits that include modified vehicles, and home repairs if your doctor deems it medically necessary.
43. Mental stress is covered if it stems from a physical situation (e.g. you have back surgery and become depressed because of the pain) or sudden and shocking situation (e.g. you are robbed at gun point).
44. More than 40,000 claims are filed in Illinois every year.
45. From the moment you start working, even if in training, you are covered under the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act.
46. Day workers/temporary workers are also entitled to workers comp if they are working through a temp agency.
47. Just because an insurance company says a case is closed does not mean it's true. The only way to close a case is to wait too long to file or sign a settlement agreement.
48. You should not give a recorded statement about what happened to anyone and can't be denied benefits for refusing to do so.
49. Almost every case has settlement value.
50. If you have two jobs and a work accident on one prevents you from being able to work the other, wages for both jobs are typically considered when calculating your benefits.