Workers’ Compensation Claims:
Illinois workers are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if they suffer an accidental injury or exposure to a disease “arising out of” and “in the course of the employment.” Any workplace injury that meets both of these requirement is often said to have occurred “within the scope of employment.” Importantly, the workers’ compensation system is “no-fault.” An injured worker never needs to prove that his employer was negligent or did something that directly caused the work injury. Any Illinois worker who is able to prove he or she has suffered an injury within the scope of employment is entitled to Disability Benefits. If a worker has died as the result of his or her injuries, surviving family members may be entitled to Survivor Benefits (also known as Death Benefits).
The Illinois Workers’ Compensation System
All workers’ compensation claims for workplace injuries are overseen by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (“IWCC”). The IWCC is the Illinois state agency responsible for resolving disputes between workers and their employers involving injuries suffered within the scope of employment. Over 50,000 claims are filed with the IWCC each year. The IWCC handles workers’ compensation claims for any employee who is injured while working for a company primarily located in Illinois, or for work that the employee performed for the employer while in Illinois. An injured employee does not have to be a resident of Illinois to file a claim with the IWCC. For example, if Wisconsin resident is injured while driving a company car to a company store location in Illinois, that injured worker may be entitled to file a workers’ compensation claim in Illinois.
An injury may arise out of and be in the course of employment even if it doesn’t happen an employer’s business or worksite itself. The injury may occur off-site so long as the employee was acting in the course of employment when it happened. Generally, an occupational disease arises out of employment if there is a “connection between the conditions under which the work is performed” and the disease. Whether an injury or illness occurred arising out of and in the course of employment is a very case-specific question. The attorneys of Keating Law Offices understand the workers’ compensation laws and can help you to bring a claim before the IWCC.
An injured employee is entitled to various types of Disability Benefits. Disabilities benefits include:
• Medical Costs – expenses from necessary medical treatment
• Disability Benefits – this will be a lump-sum settlement based on the length of time the disability causes to an injury employee to miss work and the severity of any impairments resulting from a workplace injury. (A disability is any type of limitation or restriction on a person’s ability to work or quality of life. A disability may be physical, emotional or mental.)
The types of classifications for disability benefits are:
1. Temporary Partial Disability – employee able to do modified/light-duty work
2. Temporary Total Disability – lost wages/compensation for the time employee misses work
3. Permanent Partial Disability – employee is permanently impaired, but can return to modified or light-duty work
4. Permanent Total Disability – employee is unable to work
5. Vocational Rehabilitation – costs of treatment to help injured employees return to work
6. Maintenance Benefits – costs of for an injured employee to adapt to living with post-injury impairments
Other Work-Related Legal Claims
It is against the law for an employer to retaliate against or punish an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim. An employer that fires an employee for filing a claim may be liable for wrongful termination.
In addition to workers’ compensation claims against an employer, those injured at work may also have claims against anyone else who contributed to the accident/injury. For example, an employee who is struck by a car and injured while on the job may have a claim against the driver of the car. Or, a worker who is injured on the job due to a defective piece of machinery may also have a products liability claim against the manufacturer of the defective machinery.
If a worker is killed, his or her surviving family and beneficiaries may be entitled to Survivors’ Benefits, also called Death Benefits.
Illinois Workers’ Compensation Dictionary
Filing this document with the IWCC is the first step in the workers’ compensation process.
This employee of the IWCC acts as the initial hearing officer on a workers’ compensation case. An arbitrator in an IWCC hearing is similar to a judge at a trial in a civil case.
The amount and type of compensation an employee injured in a work-related incident is entitled to receive.
Term the IWCC uses for a case filed with the IWCC. Opening a claim is the first step in the process of recovering for a workplace injury in Illinois.
Benefits paid to surviving family members of an employee killed in a work-related incident. Non-family members who were financially dependent on the deceased worker may also be entitled to Death Benefits. Death Benefits are equal to 2/3rds of the deceased worker’s average weekly wage. Other expenses, such as funeral costs, may also be covered.
Any type of limitation or restriction on a person’s ability to work or quality of life. A disability may be physical, emotional or mental
A serious, permanent scar or worsening of appearance to a part of the body normally visible – including, but not limited to: the head, face, neck, chest above the armpits, arm, hand, or leg below the knee.
There are six types of Disability Benefits an employee injured in a work-related incident may be entitled to depending on the type, severity, and length of time that it takes to heal from the injury: Medical Cost Benefits, Vocational Rehabilitation Benefits/Maintenance Benefits, Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) Benefits, Temporary Total Disability (TTD) Benefits, Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) Benefits, and Permanent Total Disability (PTD) Benefits.
Illinois state agency responsible for carrying out the workers’ compensation system.
Phrase used to describe an employee’s post-injury work which is modified to accommodate all of his work-related injuries. A light-duty job may involve fewer hours, less physical work (lifting, standing, etc.) or other types of modification (such as frequent breaks).
See Vocational Rehabilitation Benefits.
Compensation to an employee injured in the scope of employment that is reasonably necessary to cure or relieve the effects of his injury. This includes the costs of all necessary emergency care, first aid, doctor visits, surgical expenses, hospital services, physical therapy, chiropractic treatment, medications, prosthetics and modifications to make a worker’s home accessible to him after an injury.
An employee’s permanent, long-term loss of ability to perform something he was able to do prior to a work-related injury as a result of the complete or partial loss of either a part of his body or his whole body, or, the partial loss of use his whole body. There are four types of PPD Benefits. Each type falls under a different pay-rate, but in all cases the PPD Benefits paid are at least 50% of a worker’s pre-injury average weekly wage.
Benefits paid to an employee injured in a work-related incident when the injury causes the permanent and complete loss of use of two major body parties (for example, both hands, both arms, both legs, or one leg and one arm) or a complete disability that makes the employee unable to do any kind of work. PTD Benefits are equal to 2/3rds of a worker’s pre-injury average weekly wage.
Workers who suffer from certain illnesses caused by workplace environments are entitled to benefits under
the Illinois Occupational Diseases Act.
Types of Occupational Diseases Covered Include:
• Respiratory diseases
– Silicosis (caused by the breathing of silica);
– Asbestosis (caused by the breathing of asbestos); and
– Pneumoconiosis or “miner’s lung” (caused by the breathing of dust or coal)
• Injuries or disease as a result of a voluntary inoculation/vaccination program at work, including voluntary
inoculations recommended by the state or federal government for employees in that line of work (for example,
hospital employees receiving a yearly flu shot)
• Emergency medical workers exposed to bloodborne diseases
• Diseases due to exposure to radiation
The IWCC has set the value of injuries to employees based on the types and number of affected body parts. The value that a worker will be compensated for injury to a body part is described as a number of weeks of salary to be paid multiplied by the amount of permanent disability to the affected body part.
A written agreement between an employee and employer to end a workers’ compensation claim in exchange for an agreed upon amount of money. If a settlement agreement is reached between the parties, then arbitration before the IWCC is unnecessary.
An employee’s loss of ability to perform something he was able to do prior to a work-related injury as a result of the complete or partial loss of either a part of his body or his whole body, or, the partial loss of use his whole body. TPD Benefits are equal to 2/3rds of an employee’s Wage Differential.
Amount an employee injured in work-related incident receives while he is unable to return to any work or his employer cannot provide a modified/light-duty job for him. TTD Benefits are equal to 2/3rds of a worker’s pre-injury average weekly wage.
Amount that an employee is entitled to receive for rehabilitation costs to help the injury employee return to his pre-injury job. Vocational rehabilitation costs include costs related to the treatment, instruction, training, and physical rehabilitation of the employee. Maintenance Benefits are the costs of ongoing vocational rehabilitation. An employee participating in an approved vocational rehabilitation program is entitled to receive reimbursements for the costs of the program as well as maintenance benefits.
An injured worker’s pre-injury average weekly wage minus his average wage at his post-injury (or light-duty) job.
- Handbook on Workers’ Compensation and Occupational Diseases, for Injuries and Illnesses on or after 6/28/11,
Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. 2011