Workers’ Compensation & Personal Injury FAQ
- Why do I need a Workers’ Compensation or Injury Lawyer
- What are the changes to Illinois’ Workers’ Compensation laws?
- What is an Impairment Rating Exam?
- What are my rights as an employee in Illinois?
- Who is covered by worker’s compensation?
- How to help us maximize your case outcome
- I was hit by an uninsured/underinsured drive. What do I do?
Why do I need a Workers’ Compensation or Injury Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been injured, there are several important reasons why you should consult an experienced Illinois Workers’ Compensation or Personal Injury attorney.
- Most importantly, insurance companies have no obligation to inform you that what you say to them can be used to delay, reduce or deny your benefits. STYKA & STYKA, LLC, deals directly with the insurance companies and their attorneys to ensure that our clients receive the maximum benefits to which they are entitled.
- Illinois’ Workers’ Compensation & Personal Injury laws are some of the most complex in the United States. And with the recent overhaul of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, understanding your workers’ compensation rights—and standing up for your rights—just got that much more complex. STYKA & STYKA can help you understand your rights and help you recovery the maximum financial compensation you deserve for your injuries.
- Many times, an injury may involve multiple liable parties, such as multiple drivers in a car accident. Some cases also involve both workers’ compensation claims and personal injury claims. For example, a manufacturing accident may involve a workclaim as well as a product liability matter if malfunctioning equipment was involved. Another example may involve a company delivery person who is hit by a car, creating a workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury matter. An experienced injury attorney, such as Senior Partner Sylvia Styka, has the expertise you can trust to help you successfully navigate through multiple liability claims and insurance companies.
Contact STYKA & STYKA, LLC immediately after an work-related or personal injury. We fight for our clients’ rights to full compensation and benefits for their injuries.
What are the changes to Illinois’ Workers’ Compensation laws?
Workers’ Compensation Act House Bill 1698 rewrote Illinois’ Workers’ Compensation Act. The bill was signed into law on June 29, 2011, by Governor Quinn, and includes the following provisions:
- The employee is now required to prove by a preponderance of evidence that the accidental injuries were sustained on the job or arose out of the course of employment.
- Limits hand injuries to 190 weeks. A recovery for carpal-tunnel may not exceed 15% loss of use of a hand unless cause is shown otherwise by clear and convincing evidence in which the award may not exceed 30% loss of use of the hand.
- Authorizes a Preferred Provider Network of physicians and qualifies the petitioner’s right to have two separate choices of medical providers. If an injured worker refuses to be treated by the employer-directed PPO network, that refusal counts as his or her first choice of physician.
- Requires a physician to use the AMA’s Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairmentin determining the level of impairment and creates criteria for the physician in that evaluation.
- The Workers’ Compensation Commission now bases its determinations on the following criteria:
- The reported level of impairment by the physician (see below)
- The employee’s occupation
- The employee’s age at the time of injury
- The employee’s future earning capacity
- Evidence of disability corroborated by the treating medical records
- No single criterion may be the sole determinant of disability
- Reduces charges for implants to 25% above the net manufacturer’s invoice price and shipping costs minus any rebates.
- Creates four geo-zip regions for the Illinois fee schedule, which went into effect on Jan. 1, 2012.
- Reduces the fee schedule by 30% for any medical services rendered after Sept. 1, 2011.
- Reduces payment of out-of-state medical services to that state’s fee schedule. If that state doesn’t have a fee schedule, then payment for medical services is the lesser of the actual charge or the amount of the Illinois fee schedule where the employee resides.
- A wage differential award is effective only until the employee reaches 67 years of age or five years from the date of the award becomes final, whichever is later.
- Utilization-review evaluations will now include nationally recognized treatment guidelines and evidence-based medicine.
- An employee may not be compensated if the employee’s intoxication is the proximate cause of his or her injuries or if the employee was so intoxicated that it consisted of a departure from the employment.
- Terminates all arbitrators effective July 1, 2011, but they continue to serve until reappointed or their successors are appointed. All future arbitrators must be licensed Illinois attorneys. Each hearing site will include at least three different arbitrators, and the cases will be assigned on a random basis. Every two years the case will be assigned to a different arbitrator.
- Prohibits attorneys from giving gifts to someone for referring a case to them unless it is food and drink less $75 per day.
- Adds extensive reporting requirements for insurance carriers.
- Includes a pilot program in which workers’ compensation is collectively bargained.
What is an Impairment Rating Exam?
As part of the above changes, the Illinois Worker’s Compensation Commission now requires impairment ratings established by an Impairment Rating Evaluation (IRE) to be based on the American Medical Association’s Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment. An IRE is similar to an Independent Medical Exam (IME) and can have a significant effect on your wage-loss benefits. An IRE might even limit the length of your benefits.
Compensation insurance companies are known for attempting to force settlements based on IRE numbers. You do not have to accept that settlement. Settlements in Worker’s Compensation are based on disability, not solely on impairment. It is important to remember that impairment is not the same thing as disability. The IRE is just one of five factors used to determine the nature and extent of an injury (see above).
An IRE must be performed by a qualified medical doctor that your employer or its worker’s compensation insurance company is allowed to request. After your IRE physical exam, the physician will use the most recent edition of the Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment to determine your impairment rating. Basically each work-related injury is given a number between zero and 100.
If you are sent to a physician to obtain an IRE for your injury, do not panic. However, it is important to call us immediately after receiving a request for an IRE. This is a complicated area of Worker’s Compensation law and requires you to be at maximum medical improvement before a IRE can be performed.
To protect your compensation, be sure to contact our office if you receive a request for either an IRE or and IME.
What are my Workers’ Compensation rights as an employee in Illinois?
Throughout litigation, Senior Partner Sylvia Styka thoroughly explains each step of the Workers’ Compensation process. Basic to any case are your Worker’s Compensation Rights, which include:
- When an injury occurs, you have 45 days from the date you know or should have known that it could be related to your job to report the injury to the employer.
- Your employer is required to pay you two-thirds of your average weekly wage for lost time related to your work injury.
- Your employer must cover all necessary and reasonable medical bills incurred as a result of your work injury.
- You have the right to two separate choices of medical providers. However, if you refuse to be treated by the employer-directed Preferred Provider Network, that refusal counts as your first choice of physician.
- You do not have to prove employer negligence.
- Your attorney’s fee is limited by Illinois law to 20% of any disputed money that is awarded to you.
- If you cannot return to your old job as a result of your injury, your employer must help find a new job or pay you a portion of your lost income.
- Employers are strictly prohibited from harassing or firing you for filing a claim.
For more information on Illinois Worker’s Compensation claims and a free case evaluation, call STYKA & STYKA, LLC at (312) 357-8000.
Who is covered by worker’s compensation?
Generally, most full- and part-time employees in Illinois are covered by workers’ compensation. Employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance that pays employees benefits for work-related injuries. However, there some exceptions to this rule:
- Independent contractors/freelancers are not required to carry workers’ compensation for themselves.
- Postal workers and federal employees are not covered by workers’ compensation.
- Only firefighters in towns of less than 200,000 residents can file a workers’ compensation claim.
- Volunteers are not covered by workers’ compensation insurance.
Workers paid by cash are covered by workers’ comp, although it is difficult to determine payments for lost wages if wages are not documented. Illegal workers are also covered by workers’ compensation insurance.
If you are injured on the job but are not sure if you are covered by workers’ compensation insurance, do not rely on your employer for advice. Contact STYKA & STYKA—we can help you determine if you are covered and advise you on next steps.
How to help STYKA & STYKA, LLC maximize your case outcome
Your record keeping is one of the most important parts of your worker’s compensation or personal injury claim. Accurate and thorough records help us not only handle your claim faster but also assist us in recovering the maximum financial compensation, whether for a work or personal injury.
Be sure to keep copies of all of your medical bills, including receipts for over-the-counter medications as well as prescriptions. You should also be sure to keep track of the names and addresses of everyone who treats you. For workers’ compensation claims, give every doctor, hospital, and medical facility the names and addresses of your employer and your employer’s worker’s compensation insurance carrier for billing.
Using a journal to record your physical complaints will help you remember everything you need to tell your doctor since your last appointment. Be sure to keep all of your medical appointments. If you absolutely cannot make an appointment, call the doctor before the appointment to reschedule (ideally, 24 hours in advance). Always be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions carefully. If your doctor changes your treatment or suggests surgery, call your attorney immediately.
Don’t forget to keep your employer up to date on your recovery. However, in cases of a workers’ comp claim, do not to discuss the circumstances of your case with your employer or any one else except your doctors and your lawyer at STYKA & STYKA.
If you are released to a lighter-duty job that pays less than your regular job, keep track of lost wages. Try to work out any misunderstandings about your physical condition or your job with your employer. If you have a serious problem, though, be sure to contact us at (312)357-8000.
At STYKA & STYKA, we work hard to effectively settle personal injury and work injury claims with maximum financial compensation. To help us successfully handle your case, please do not discuss the circumstances of your case with anyone except the people in our office and your doctors. Do not answer emails or requests from people you don’t know. Also remember that because of the legal process, the insurance defense team knows a lot about you and could send you an email that might make you think it is from someone you know.
Insurance companies and their defense lawyers often search social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube for photos, status updates, and blogs. Please refrain from discussing your case in any way via social media. The courts are ordering the injured to produce their Facebook pages to the insurance company lawyers. Please contact us with any questions about your social media accounts soon rather than later.
I was hit by an uninsured/underinsured driver. What do I do?
Please return in a few days for our answer!