What Happens If You Are Injured on the Job?
Injuries on the job are treated differently in the law than any other kind of injury. On the job injuries are covered by a written law known as the Workers’ Compensation Act, which is a very long and complicated law. Work injuries are handled at the Illinois Industrial Commission, which has its main office at the State of Illinois building in downtown Chicago. The Industrial Commission itself encourages injured workers to obtain the services of a lawyer to safeguard your rights under the law.
There are three main areas of benefits that you are entitled to under the law known as the Workers’ Compensation Act. Your employer carries a special kind of insurance policy called workers’ compensation insurance which protects you when you are injured on the job, and that insurance policy pays out for each of the three areas of benefits you are entitled to.
BENEFIT #1: You are entitled to have all of your reasonable and necessary medical bills paid. You will be covered 100%, there are no deductibles which come out of your own pocket. You are covered for doctor and hospital bills, prescriptions, therapy, braces, casts, even occupational rehabilitation if that is necessary. You are allowed to go to any doctor of your own choosing, and you do not have to be treated by a doctor chosen by your employer’s insurance company. While the insurance company is allowed to have you examined by a doctor they choose, their examining doctor is not allowed to treat you if you do not want him to. It is wise to be represented by a lawyer right from the start, so that you have the benefit of his advice as to whether the medical treatment you are getting will be covered. Also, the insurance company has the right to receive reports from your doctors, and your lawyer will help you make sure that your doctors are cooperating with the insurance company to the extent that all of your bills are paid.
BENEFIT #2: You are entitled to payments that take the place of your missed paychecks, no matter how long you are off work. These payments are known as temporary total disability payments, and they are generally in the amount of 2/3’s of your gross, straight time wages. Your lawyer can help you make sure that your checks come regularly so that you can continue paying all of your normal bills for you and your family while you are off work.
BENEFIT #3: In the case of almost every injury, you are entitled to a settlement or an award of money to compensate you for the injury itself. These amounts are based upon a combination of your wages, the part of the body injured, and the seriousness of the injury. While the Industrial Commission must approve of any such settlement, there can be a very wide range of settlement amounts that the Industrial Commission will approve. The difference between an acceptable settlement at the low end of the scale, and an acceptable settlement at the high end of the scale, can be the difference of many thousands of dollars. One of the most important parts of your lawyer’s job is to make sure your settlement or award is the highest possible amount of money you are entitled to.