Q: What are some important benefits under the Illinois Worker's Compensation Act?
There’s nothing simple about worker’s compensation in Illinois, especially after recent reforms in the law have made it much more difficult for injured workers to maintain their claims. Anyone injured on the job should seek an legal help from a lawyer experienced in worker’s compensation claims, but here a few quick answers to common questions from clients
1. What is workers' compensation?
Workers' compensation is a system of benefits provided by law to most employees who experience work-related injuries or occupational diseases. Generally, benefits are paid regardless of fault.
2. What benefits may be provided?
a) Medical care;
b) Temporary total disability (TTD) benefits while the employee is off work recovering;
c) Vocational rehabilitation/maintenance;
d) Permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits for an employee who sustains some permanent disability or disfigurement, but can work;
e) Permanent total disability (PTD) benefits for an employee who is rendered permanently unable to work;
f) Death benefits for surviving family members.
3. Who pays for the medical care?
If the employer does not dispute a medical bill, it will pay the medical provider directly. The employee is not required to pay co-payments or deductibles, unless the service is covered under a group health plan.
4. Are workers compensation benefits taxable income?
No. Workers' compensation benefits are not taxable under state or federal law and need not be reported as income on tax returns.
5. What are the time limits for notifying the employer of a workplace accident?
a) Generally, the employee must notify the employer as soon as practicable, but no later than 45 days after the accident. Any delay in the notice to the employer can delay the payment of benefits.
b) For injuries resulting from radiological exposure, the employee must notify the employer 90 days after the employee knows or suspects that he or she has received an excessive dose of radiation.
c) For occupational diseases, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, the employee must notify the employer as soon as practicable after he or she becomes aware of the condition.
6. Can an employee be fired for reporting an accident or filing a claim?
It is illegal for an employer to harass, discharge, refuse to rehire, or discriminate in any way against an employee for exercising his or her rights under the law. Such conduct by the employer may give rise to a right to file a separate suit for damages in the circuit court.
7. Is an employee eligible for compensation for pain and suffering for a work-related injury?
Employees are not compensated for past pain and suffering, only for the residual pain that is part of the permanent disability.
8. How much can an attorney charge for their services on a workers' compensation case?
Although there are some exceptions, with most claims the attorney's fee is limited to 20% of compensation recovered.
9. What is a lump sum settlement?
The Workers' Compensation Act also allows for settlements that pay an injured employee in a single payment. Lump sum settlements may end other rights. It is important to read any settlement carefully and consult an attorney for legal advice.
10. Does a decision or settlement close a case forever?
A settlement contract usually closes a case forever unless the parties specifically state otherwise in the terms of the settlement contract.
Filing for benefits can be a difficult process. Contact the Collinsville workers’ compensation lawyers at the Giacoletto Law Firm for help getting the benefits you deserve from your claim. Call us at 618-346-8841 or toll free at 888-346-8841 to speak today with an experienced Madison or St. Clair County workers' compensation attorney centrally located in Collinsville.