Illinois Workers’ Compensation Rights

Employees and Employers Covered

To be eligible for benefits under the Illinois workers’ compensation law, you must work for an employer that is covered by the law. The Illinois workers’ compensation law is extremely broad, and almost every employee who is hired, injured, or whose employment is localized in Illinois is covered by the law. Generally speaking, you are covered from the moment your employment begins. Employers must post a notice in the workplace indicating the name, business address, and business telephone number of the person, service company or insurance company to contact with questions relating to workers’ compensation.

Injuries and Occupational Diseases Covered

The Illinois workers’ compensation law provides benefits for employees who have sustained an “accident” “arising out of” and “in the course of” their employment that results in injury or death. Accidental injuries, including aggravations of pre-existing conditions, are generally compensable. An injury is accidental if it occurs unexpectedly, without plan or design. The terms “accident”, “arising out of” and “in the course of” are legal terms that are specifically defined in the workers’ compensation law and are subject to possible future interpretation by the courts. In Illinois, an injury is deemed to be compensable if there is a causal connection between the injury and work. Your employment must create some increased risk of harm as compared to the general public. Also, the mere fact that you are present at the place of injury because of your employment will not, by itself, suffice to establish that your injury arose out of your employment.

The law also provides benefits for employees with occupational diseases. An occupational disease is a disease arising out of and in the course of employment which has been aggravated and rendered disabling as a result of the exposure of the employment. Such aggravation must arise out of a risk peculiar to or increased by employment and not common to the general public. An occupational disease arises out of employment if, despite all the circumstances, there is clearly a causal connection between the conditions under which work is performed and the disease. Occupational diseases, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, and other over-use conditions, are compensable under the law if there is a causal connection between work and the development of the condition.

Benfits

The Illinois workers’ compensation law provides several types of benefits to employees who suffer a work-related injury. First, you are entitled to receive medical treatment for your injury at your employer’s expense. Second, you are entitled to receive compensation for the time that you are unable to work because of your injury. Third, you are entitled to receive compensation for any permanent residual effects of your injury. Finally, when death occurs as the result of a work-related accident, your employer is required to provide additional benefits. Information about each of these types of benefits is provided below.

Medical Benefits

An injured employee is entitled to receive all necessary first aid, medical, surgical and hospital services reasonably required to cure or relieve the effects of the injury or disease. If necessary, the employee is also entitled to receive appropriate physical, mental or vocational rehabilitation. The employee may choose any hospital or doctor at the employer’s expense. It is usually recommended that the employee inform his or her employer of the name of the doctor chosen. The employee may also obtain treatment from a doctor or hospital selected by the employer. The employer can ask for an evaluation by its own physician, but the employer must pay for this examination. The employer must also pay in advance sufficient monies to defray travel expenses for the appointment. If the employee refuses to attend an examination set up by the employer’s physician, the employee could lose benefits.

Compensation for Lost Income

If you are temporarily unable to work because of a work-related injury, or if you are temporarily unable to perform the same type of work that you performed before you were injured, you may be eligible to receive Temporary Partial Disability or Temporary Total Disability benefits.

A Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) is a disability which permits you to return to some kind of work, either less physically demanding or otherwise different from your normal job, but nevertheless prevents you from earning the same amount of wages as you earned at the time of the accident. As the name implies, TPD benefits are temporary in nature, usually payable when you are under a physician’s orders to limit your activities.

A Temporary Total Disability (TTD) is a disability which prevents you from engaging in any occupation on a temporary basis. The workers’ compensation law does not require you to be completely inactive or inert in order to be eligible for TTD benefits. Generally, you are entitled to receive TTD benefits if you miss more than three consecutive days of work due to a compensable injury.

Compensation for Permanent Disability

If a work-related injury or occupational disease results in a permanent physical impairment, you may be eligible to receive Permanent Partial Disability or Permanent Total Disability benefits.

Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) benefits are designed to compensate you for the permanent and lasting effects of your work-related injury. The law assigns pre-determined values to each major part of the human body. PPD is usually expressed as a percentage of the particular part of the body that is injured, converted into weeks of disability, multiplied by your weekly compensation rate, and then converted into dollars. PPD benefits may also include compensation for reduced earning capacity associated with an inability to pursue your usual and customary line of work.

Permanent Total Disability (PTD) benefits are payments for a sustained inability to return to any employment as a result of your work-related injury. You are considered permanently and totally disabled if you are not able to perform any services for which there is a reasonably stable labor market. Aside from the permanent physical effects of your injury, other factors to consider in determining whether or not you are eligible for PTD benefits include your age, education, and prior work experience.

Death Benefits

If a work-related accident results in death, your employer is required to pay burial expenses (not to exceed a maximum amount of $8,000) and make payments to your dependents in an amount calculated pursuant to a statutory schedule.