There are several different outcomes that can arise after a worker suffers a disabling work injury in Illinois. With respect to future work, the most prevalent outcome for those who suffer a serious injury is to stay out of work under a doctor's care until the doctor releases the individual to go back to work. During the period of disability, the worker collects workers' compensation benefits without regard to who caused the accident.
The benefits include payment for lost wages based on a statewide statutory formula and payment of all reasonable medical expenses necessary to treat the person. An injured worker who suffers a less severe injury may return to work much sooner, either with or without restrictions. If the injury did not fully incapacitate the individual, he or she may return to work with a treating physician's specified restrictions. This may mean, for example, that the worker will not be allowed to lift more than a certain number of pounds.
Another option sometimes made available is to return under light duty. The employer may decide to put the worker on another job that does not involve the same physical demands as the worker's normal job. This can be a temporary or permanent transfer. The path that an injured worker follows after suffering a workplace injury depends largely on the medical records and, above all, on the medical opinion expressed in writing by the treating physician.
It is therefore important for the injured worker to follow precisely the treatment regimen set forth by the doctor and to be responsive to all of the doctor's orders. Sometimes, the employer and/or its workers' compensation insurer do not agree with the treating physician's determination that the worker is still disabled or that special restrictions are still necessary. If that kind of conflict arises, the worker will be well-advised to immediately consult with an Illinois attorney who is experienced in handling compensation claims on behalf of those who are injured at work.