Being injured at work can be stressful. Navigating the workers' compensation program in Illinois and dealing with insurance companies adds to an already unpleasant incident.
Some of these headaches can be eased, though not always eliminated, by filing a workers' compensation claim properly and on time. You have the right to receive compensation, and with those rights come certain responsibilities.
Filing a claim
After you have been injured, your first obligation is to tell you employer immediately. The state requires you inform your employer within 45 days to receive maximum benefits.
While Illinois law allows you to give notice of the accident orally or in writing, it helps to have hard evidence that you followed claim guidelines if your claim is denied. Writing your notice allows you to do this.
When you report the injury, include the approximate date and location of the accident. Try to provide as much additional detail as you can remember as well.
You have three years to file a claim with the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission. Your employer has an obligation to report the injury to the commission if you miss more than three workdays as a result of the injury. They must also do one of the following:
- Begin payments of temporary total disability
- Give you written explanation of additional information they need
- Give you written explanation of why benefits are denied
What if my claim is denied?
If your claim is denied, you can file a claim with the commission and request a hearing within three years of becoming disabled, or within two years after the last payment date of compensation. While you bear the burden of showing the commission you sustained the injury in the course of your employment, you are not alone in the fight.
You can work with a workers' compensation attorney, who can help at almost any stage of the process, to appeal your case. Before a claim can be denied, you can seek their counsel to file your initial claim and increase its chances for success.