If you are injured in the workplace in Illinois to the extent that you are missing work or needing medical treatment, it’s imperative to have an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer – even if the employer is paying your workers’ compensation benefits and approving medical treatment after you made your claim.
You need a workers’ compensation lawyer because you want to be in the best position to react in the event the employer and the insurance company start denying treatment. This often occurred when they send you to one of their doctors who no longer believes that you should be off of work or doesn’t agree that you need certain treatment. When this occurs your attorney can react immediately and have the necessary medical evidence and records to refute these arguments.
Insurance companies want to close your case as soon as possible to save money. If you don’t have a lawyer on your side until after they cut you off, your lawyer will need to get up to speed on the situation in order to file a motion immediately and make the best possible argument against the workers’ compensation insurance company.
An additional advantage is that we, as your lawyers, are often able to negotiate a much higher settlement for an injured worker than they may be able to negotiate for themselves. In fact, often the employer won’t even suggest the possibility of a settlement to unrepresented Petitioner and allow the statute of limitations to run thus barring your claim forever.
Workers’ compensation claim time limits
Generally speaking, you have three years from the date of the accident or two years from the date that benefits were last paid, whichever is later, to file a workers’ compensation case in Illinois. If you wait more than those periods then your claim could be barred forever against the employer. Every case depends on its unique facts and circumstances, however, so you are urged to talk with a workers’ compensation attorney before you conclude that it is too late.
Please talk with a lawyer if you’re not sure about how the time limits apply to your scenario.
Illinois Workers’ Compensation Benefits – Lost Wages
When an employee is injured and off of work the benefits that they are entitled to for lost income is called temporary total disability (TTD). If you’ve been injured in the workplace in Illinois to the extent that you are missing work, the amount that you are paid in TTD is based upon your average weekly wages on the date of the accident. That’s determined by the amount of money you made in the 52 weeks preceding the date of the accident. If you worked all 52 weeks or an entire year, it’s relatively simple to calculate.
However, if you only worked six months or eight months, they would only utilize the weeks and parts thereof that you worked, so that they can accurately portray the wages and calculate your benefits.
Once the average weekly wage is ascertained, the employee would be entitled to two-thirds of that amount tax-free for as long as that employee is off work.
You would be entitled to TTD if your doctor has you completely off work or if your doctor has you on light duty and your employer is unable to accommodate that light-duty work.
If the employer is able to accommodate your light duty, then you would either have to return to that light-duty position, or you would not be entitled to additional compensation.
What if the insurance company doctor concludes that you’re capable of full duty work?
In the situation where your employer terminates your benefits based on the opinion of the insurance company doctor that you are fit for work, we would immediately petition the court for an emergency hearing and argue that pursuant to your own doctor’s orders, you should still be off work and still be entitled to temporary total disability.
What if the light-duty or other offering is part-time and less than two-thirds of my average salary?
Let’s say that before the accident, you worked 40 hours, but the employer can now only offer 20 hours of light-duty work with your restriction. In this case, you would be paid 20 hours by your employer for the work that you are doing and the insurance company would pay the other 20 hours that you would have made but for the accident. You’d receive two-thirds of that amount tax-free. In effect, you would receive money from the insurance companies as well as from your actual employer.