Chicago Workers’ Compensation Claims Lawyer
As an experienced Chicago workers’ compensation lawyer, Mark Connolly understands that the road to benefits can be long and winding, with many places along the way that make or break an employee’s case. See below for a brief overview of the process. If you have any questions or need help filing a claim or appealing a denial, call Connolly Injury Law at 312-780-0816 for a free consultation.
Steps to Secure Workers’ Compensation in Illinois
STEP ONE: Employee report of injury – Soon after the injury, the employee needs to put the employer on notice about the accident or injury. This is a required step to secure your rights to workers’ compensation rights. This report can be oral or written, but doing it in writing is highly recommended to document this step occurred. If reporting orally, follow up in writing. Include the date and place of the accident and a description of what happened. This notice should be delivered to the employee’s immediate supervisor or someone in management, not a co-worker. Company policy might designate a person to report to. The sooner this notice is given, the better, but it must occur within 45 days of the accident (90 days for radiation exposure) to avoid losing your right to workers’ comp. In the case of an occupational disease, the deadline to report is soon as practicable after the worker becomes aware of the illness.
STEP TWO: Employer reports the injury to the Commission – Once notified of the injury, the employer should notify the Workers’ Compensation Commission, inform their workers’ compensation insurance carrier, and begin covering the costs of medical treatment. The employer should start making payments three days after the injury or provide a reason explaining why it isn’t covering the costs.
STEP THREE: Commission mails workers’ compensation handbook to employee – The Commission’s HANDBOOK ON WORKERS’ COMPENSATION AND OCCUPATIONAL DISEASES is a valuable guide to benefits and procedures and the rights and obligations of employees and employers, including contact information for Commission offices and more.
STEP FOUR: Filing a Claim – If the employer isn’t paying benefits, the employee files a claim with the Commission. The Commission assigns a case number and an arbitrator to the case. Arbitrators handle thousands of cases, and it can take years before any hearing is held. The Commission should check in on the status of the claim every three months for up to three years, but the case will not be resolved until the employee is certified by a doctor as having reached “maximum medical improvement.” Workers have three years from the date of injury or disability to file a claim, although this deadline is longer for certain circumstances or types of injury, such as asbestos or radiation exposure.
STEP FIVE: Arbitration – An arbitration is similar to a courtroom hearing or trial in many ways. The arbitrator hears evidence and is bound to follow the law and legal precedents, and the proceedings are recorded by a court reporter. At the hearing, the burden falls on the employee to prove eligibility for benefits. The employee must prove elements related to jurisdiction, employment, the accident or exposure, a causal connection between employment and the accident, and that the employee gave proper notice to the employer. Although it may take years to get to this stage, a trial is supposed to be held within a month of the request, with a decision delivered within 60 days of the arbitration. Emergency hearings, also known as 19(b) petitions, are available in certain circumstances.
STEP SIX: Appeal to the Commission – Either side can appeal the arbitrator’s ruling to a panel of three Commissioners. Appeals happen in about 50% of all cases, so it’s good to know this might happen and be prepared to file or respond to an appeal. The Commissioners review the arbitrator’s decision in light of the evidence and trial transcript, along with written arguments from the parties. The Commissioners also schedule an oral argument to hear from the parties and question them about the case. The Commissioners can affirm, deny or modify the arbitrator’s ruling.
STEP SEVEN: Appeal to court – It’s possible in most cases to appeal the Commissioner’s decision to the Circuit Court. From there, the case can continue to be appealed to the Appellate Court and even the Illinois Supreme Court. The state Supreme Court generally hears one or two workers’ comp cases every year. State government workers are bound by the Commissioner’s ruling and cannot appeal to court.
Although a workers’ comp case can proceed through all of these steps and go on for years, it can also be settled at any time. A skilled and experienced workers’ compensation lawyer will work to negotiate an effective settlement at the earliest possible time or advise you on the pros and cons of litigating the case further.
Help With Chicago Workers’ Compensation Claims
If you need help pursuing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits in Chicago, please call Connolly Injury Law at 312-780-0816 to speak with Chicago workers’ compensation attorney Mark Connolly. Your call is free, and there is no fee until after we are successful in getting you benefits. Mr. Connolly will handle your case personally and be with you at every step.