Answers to Common Workers' Compensation Questions

If you have been injured at work — whether through a sudden incident or a long-term, repetitive action — you may have many questions about workers' compensation benefits. Workers may avoid reporting an injury or wonder if they are getting the best settlement possible from their employer's insurer.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Mathys & Schneid can answer these questions and more. Some of our most commonly asked questions and answers are below.

Am I covered by workers' compensation?

Most employees in Illinois are covered by workers' comp. The state requires employers to provide workers' compensation coverage for employees, but not everyone is covered. Sole proprietors and business partners may be exempt, for example.

What benefits are available?

Workers' compensation benefits cover medical expenses for work-related injuries. They also provide wage replacement, either temporarily or for the long term, depending on how severe your injuries are. In addition, you may be eligible for vocational rehabilitation benefits if you are unable to return to your job.

For more information, see our page on workers' compensation benefits.

Can I afford a workers' compensation lawyer?

Yes. Workers' compensation cases are handled on a contingency basis. This means that you do not owe attorney's fees until your case is concluded. In most cases, attorney's fees are limited to 20 percent of the compensation for up to 364 weeks of the maximum temporary total disability benefit.

Are undocumented workers eligible for workers' compensation?

Yes. Workers' compensation is available to covered workers regardless of their status in the United States. Legal aliens, undocumented workers and other noncitizens are eligible for workers' compensation for work-related injuries and illnesses.

When should I tell my employer I was injured at work?

If you have been injured in a work-related accident, you should tell your employer as soon as possible. By law, you have 45 days to report the accident to your employer. Some may try to work through an injury to avoid missing work, but delaying a report could lead to a disputed workers' compensation claim. By not reporting the injury right away, you are giving an employer an opportunity to claim that the injury occurred somewhere other than work. If you have a repetitive injury such as carpal tunnel syndrome, you should report the injury as soon as you realize your injury may be work-related. Either an oral or written report is legal in Illinois. We recommend that you provide notice in writing to document your claim.

For more information, visit our blog about reporting injuries or our page on the workers' compensation process.

How much money will I receive from workers' compensation?

The amount that you receive from workers' compensation depends on your income before you were injured, which body part was injured and how much use you lost. Other factors could include how long you were off work, whether you can return to work and whether you have any restrictions on your ability to work. Your medical treatments may also factor into your workers' compensation settlement. If your employer's insurance company offers you a settlement, the offer may be low. An experienced workers' comp attorney can help you determine a fair settlement for your case.

For more information, see our blog, " How much is my workers' compensation case worth?"

Can I get fired for filing a workers' compensation claim?

Workers frequently avoid filing workers' compensation claims, and the fear of getting fired is a major reason why. However, the law is on your side when you file for workers' compensation. An employer cannot fire you solely for filing a workers' compensation claim. Keep in mind that your employer could terminate you while your claim is open if there are other valid reasons for termination.

For more information on protecting yourself from wrongful termination, see our blog entry on the topic.

What if I miss a second job because I was injured at work?

If you have two jobs and you are unable to work at either of them because of a work-related injury, you may be able to include earnings from both jobs in the calculation that determines the amount of your workers' compensation benefits. You must be able to meet specific criteria, as outlined in our blog on workers' comp and second jobs. If you meet those criteria, your second job can be included in your average weekly wage (AWW), which is the basis on which the amount of your benefits is calculated.

Do I have to keep using the same doctor for my work-related injury?

If you are injured in a work-related accident in Illinois, state law requires your employer to pay for the medical services that you initially choose as well as subsequent medical providers that you are referred to in the course of your treatment. Employers must also pay for a second physician – but injured workers may have a limited ability to choose which physician to see. You may be limited to physicians within your employer's preferred provider program (PPP). If your employer does not have a PPP, you may be able to choose two medical providers and subsequent referrals. While employees still have the option to switch doctors, their choices may be limited.

For more answers regarding your workers' compensation concerns, contact the Law Offices of Mathys & Schneid in Naperville by calling 630-848-9294. Or email us.