The Most Important Steps to Complete Following a Work-Related Injury
No matter where you work or what you do for a living, you are at some level of risk for a work-related injury. Every injury at the workplace, no matter how small, should be reported to your supervisor or to a designated employee.
1. Immediately complete an injury report. The most common legal problem in an otherwise valid workers’ comp claim is failure to report an accident promptly. If your injury is from repetitive stress, such as carpal tunnel, you should state that “Overuse at my job caused pain.” Delayed reporting of accidents and injuries may result in denial of needed compensation for medical payments and lost wages.
2. Always request a copy of the report.
3. Seek immediate medical treatment! In the case of an emergency, you have the right to seek help from any ER of your choice. However, except in an emergency, Illinois workers no longer have the right to seek unlimited care from two doctors of their own choice if the employer provides–and notifies–its employees that the employer maintains a Preferred Provider Program (PPP).
If your employer maintains a PPP, you may seek medical care from a physician in the PPP, OR, only one doctor of your choice. However, your doctor may refer you to as many other doctors that may be reasonable and necessary to cure your injury, so long as those subsequent doctors are within the chain of referral from your first doctor.
If your employer does not maintain a PPP, then you may seek treatment from up to TWO doctors of your choice. These two doctors may also refer you to as many other doctors as may be necessary and reasonable to heal your injury, as long as the subsequent doctors are under the chain of referral from the first two doctors.
4. Always tell every nurse or doctor whom you see that an accident on the job caused your medical symptoms or problems. Tell them exactly what you wrote on the accident report or told the boss when you reported the accident. Keep your facts straight and be specific.
5. Start keeping an injury diary. See my article: Bills, Bills, Bills: Help Maximize Your Claim with Good Recordkeeping.
6. You are entitled to Disability pay (TTD) under Illinois’ Workers’ Compensation Act, if your injury prevents you from working. You must have a doctor’s written excuse for each day that you cannot work in order to receive this benefit. Always make sure that your company has a current “off-work” form from your doctor to continue to receive your TTD benefits.
7. File your claim with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission within 3 years of your injury in order to protect your rights. This is not the same as filing an accident report or signing insurance forms with your company’s HR department.
Illinois Workers’ Compensation laws are complex, and the changes signed into law in 2011 make the claim process even more complicated. Insurance companies train their insurance adjusters to understand workers’ compensation laws and procedures and to use those rules and procedures to manipulate the injured worker’s claim with the sole purpose being to pay the least amount possible on a claim.
I know that no one really wants to hire a lawyer, but many of the actions taken by insurance companies require an experienced worker’s compensation lawyer to protect your rights to full compensation. Insurance companies hire and pay defense attorneys to use their skill and knowledge of the laws to find factual, or legal, arguments to assist in defending claims and to convince the Workers’ Compensation Commission to deny a claim. You need a knowledgeable, experienced attorney to identify potential problems and help guide you through this system. Without correctly following all the rules and timelines dotting all the i’s and crossing all the t’s, you may see your compensation claim denied or reduced.
With 24 years of experience, I possess the skill and experience you need to obtain the compensation you deserve. I focus on compensation, so you can focus on life.
If you, a friend, or loved one has suffered a work-related injury, call me immediately at (312) 357-8000 for a free consultation. I will help you through each step of the compensation process and help you put your life back together.