Workers Compensation Lawyer Chicago
Despite what you may hear on the news, no one plans on having a work accident. Accidents and injuries happen in the most unforeseeable ways. When an individual sustains a serious injury, the last thing on that person’s mind is the compensation for a potential workers’ compensation claim, however, it is exactly what the insurance company is thinking.
There are two questions that an insurance carrier will ask when they are first notified of a workers’ compensation claim. First, “do we owe the claimant anything?” and second, “how much do we owe them?” If the answer to the first question is “no,” the insurance carrier does not even consider the second question. However, if the answer is “yes,” the only thing the carrier thinks about is the second question: “how much?”
Accepted vs. Denied Claims
The first type of claim is called a “denied” claim. A denied claim is where the insurance carrier refuses all benefits. Changing the insurance carrier’s position in these types of claims can be time-consuming and difficult, leaving the claimant with no income or medical treatment while they wait. The second type of claim is called an “accepted” claim. An accepted claim is where the insurance carrier has agreed that they are responsible for the benefits owed to the claimant. Benefits are generally paid to the claimant and the claimant can obtain the necessary medical treatment promptly.
The insurance carrier’s decision on whether to accept or deny a claim is generally made within the first 72 hours of being notified of the claim. What the claimant does immediately after the accident is extremely important. The steps that are taken immediately after the accident can mean the difference between weeks of no benefits or medical treatment, versus receiving benefits and medical treatment.
Ways to Protect Yourself
1) Inform your employer of the injury as soon as possible.
The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act requires that a claimant provide notice of an injury to their employer no later than 45 days after the accident. The best practice is to inform your employer immediately of the injury. The primary reason for this is credibility.
If an employee lifts a box at the end of his/her shift and feels a sudden onset of back pain, that person might think that the pain will pass with time. The employee goes home, takes some over-the-counter pain medications and goes to bed. The next morning, they cannot move. If that person now attempts to go to work in extreme back pain and claims that the pain started the day before while at work, the employer and the insurance carrier will not give them the benefit of the doubt. Instead, they will believe that if the claimant really hurt their back that badly at work they would have reported it to their supervisor.
2) Seek medical treatment as soon as possible.
Delays in starting medical treatment, or long gaps in the middle of continuous treatment, can similarly cause credibility issues. Workers’ compensation insurance carriers generally believe that people who are in pain or are having problems go to the doctor. In the real world we know that people don’t go to the doctor for a variety of reasons: there is no time, the kids need to be driven to football practice, one would have to miss work, or simply the injured person thinks it will go away with the passage of time.
If you are injured at work it is always advisable to seek medical treatment as soon as possible. In the best case scenario, the doctor tells you everything is fine and no more treatment is necessary. In a worst case scenario, an individual is suffering with a serious injury and by the time a doctor can evaluate the problem, so much time has passed that it makes it difficult to connect the current issues with the work injury that may have happened two months ago. The most important part of seeking medical treatment is to make sure that the doctor and/or nurse clearly mark down your description of the accident. It should be clear that the accident occurred while working. If you just mention “I hurt myself lifting a box”, it will not be documented as an on-the-job injury.
3) Call an attorney as soon as possible.
Often people avoid calling an attorney after a work injury. Some people are afraid that calling an attorney will cause problems at work. Employees are often under the mistaken belief that if they have received Temporary Total Disability benefits their claim has been accepted. The employee is given a false sense of security because payment of compensation benefits is not an admission of liability. Usually during this time the insurance adjuster will call asking for a recorded statement, which you should never give. You should always consult an attorney as there are many actions that we would advise you to take in order to preserve your rights under the Workers’ Compensation Act. There are also many actions that we would advise against in order to keep you from jeopardizing receiving your benefits.
Workers Comp Lawyer Chicago Eligibility
A benefit to the employee that workers’ compensation offers is that employees who are eligible for workers’ compensation do not need to prove negligence or fault on the part of their employer in order to be awarded monetary compensation. As a result of this, the time involved to finalize a claim is typically significantly less than personal injury lawsuits.
Not all employees are eligible for workers’ compensation. For example, some state and federal government employees may be exempt from workers’ compensation benefits. Further, not all workplace injuries are covered by workers’ compensation. With Parente & Norem in Chicago, our workers’ compensation lawyers have several years of experience with the workers’ compensation system.
If you have been injured in conjunction with your job you may be eligible for workers’ compensation. Even if you were not on your employer’s property at the time of the injury, you might have a claim. Contact our Chicago workers’ compensation lawyers at Parente & Norem to schedule a free case evaluation.