Workers' Compensation: Frequently Asked Questions
Get Answers from a Chicago Work Injury Attorney
What Are My Rights if I Get Hurt at Work?
In Illinois, employees who were injured during the course of their employment are entitled to benefits under the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act. Generally, injured employees are entitled to having their medical expenses paid, receiving a weekly check equal to 66 percent, or two-thirds, of their average weekly earnings, and, once they have attained maximum medical improvement from their injuries, receiving a lump sum equal to the permanent disability that has resulted from the injury.
Our Chicago injury lawyers are trained in maximizing our client's workers' compensation recovery. Many times, employers will not accurately compute the average weekly earnings and try to pay the worker less on his or her weekly disability checks. The employers and their insurance companies will often try to pay a very minimal amount in a lump sum disability payment when the injury and resulting disability is worth far more. Please call us with the details of your injury to learn more about your options.
How Much Time Do You have to Sue for a Work-Related Injury?
Every injury matter is governed by a limitations period. This means that unless you pursue your rights within a certain period of time, you will lose them. Generally in Illinois, those limits are three years for a workers' compensation matter and two years for a negligence lawsuit, such as an auto accident. Each case is different, which is why you should call us to evaluate the particulars of your injury claim.
At Morici, Longo & Associates, we strongly encourage clients to take action once they have been injured and to contact us immediately. Acting quickly will help preserve evidence, obtain witness statements, and make certain you are able to receive the medical attention you require. This is a brief description; please call our firm with the particulars of your workplace injury for a more detailed explanation.
I'm Afraid to Call a Lawyer Because I Don't Have a Green Card. Can I Still Be Helped?
A person who is injured under our American legal system, whether it relates to a workers' compensation claim or a personal injury lawsuit, is entitled to recover benefits or damages regardless of immigration status. In fact, there are specific judicial court opinions holding that an employer cannot deny an employee workers' compensation benefits because of his or her status as an illegal immigrant.
Other cases extend that protection to automobile accident lawsuits. Our firm recently obtained a multi-million-dollar settlement on behalf of an undocumented immigrant from Central America. While each case has its own specific facts, generally, immigration status has not been a problem. If you need help, please contact our firm for more information concerning the specifics of your workplace injury.
I Don't Speak Very Much English. Can Your Firm Still Help Me?
We serve many non-English speaking clients at Morici, Longo & Associates, so we are very used to working with a wide range of interpreters in communicating with our clients. These included Russian, Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Polish, German, and Spanish-speaking translators. Services that we use are only a phone call away and often can help us communicate with clients during conference phone calls.
What If My Employer Does Not Have Workers' Compensation Insurance?
Employers in Illinois are required to have workers' compensation insurance. If they don't, then a client can bring an action directly against the employer to have his or her workers' compensation benefits paid for. Many of our clients tell us that their employer treated them as an independent contractor.
When this happens, the potential exists to bring a lawsuit against the employer. We have done this in many cases where employers have provided faulty machinery or equipment to workers and, as a result, the workers have been injured. Of course, each set of facts is unique so please contact our firm.
I Haven't Heard from My Lawyer in Months. What Can I Do?
At Morici, Longo & Associates, we generally encourage people to make an attempt to re-contact their lawyer to work out their differences. If, ultimately, that is not possible, the client in Illinois is free to cancel a contingent personal injury agreement and hire another lawyer. In most cases, the discharged lawyer will be paid for his or her time by the new attorney once the matter has been resolved.
If I'm the Owner of a Company, Can I Recover Workers' Comp Benefits?
If you are the owner of a company in Illinois, you can be covered under a workers' compensation insurance policy if you have designated yourself as one of the insured persons in your insurance policy. Sometimes owners don't include themselves in order to save a few dollars. That is a big mistake. We have seen people go through great hardship because they try to save a few dollars in insurance premiums and then were severely injured, leaving themselves with no recourse.
Assuming you did have workers' comp insurance to cover your employees and you had it specifically extended to cover yourself, then you would be entitled to have your medical bills paid for, your average weekly earnings reimbursed while you are temporarily disabled, and receive a lump sum payout once you attain maximum medical improvement based on your existing disability. There are many factors to be considered, so you should consult a Chicago personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
I Was Injured in a Scaffolding Accident. What Are My Avenues of Recovery?
Initially, of course, I expect that you have been receiving workers' compensation benefits in order to cover your medical expenses to date, your average weekly earnings in the form of a temporary total disability (TTD) check, and that ultimately you will be compensated for any permanent disability you have sustained. Those are your basic rights under the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act.
In the meantime, we would need more information on the facts of your injury. Many times, a general contractor or some other entity was supervising the work site. When that happens, injured construction worker clients are not only entitled to workers' compensation benefits, but can also recover from the general contractor or any other subcontractors that may have been responsible for the injury.
I would question who erected the scaffold, whether the component parts of the scaffold were properly manufactured (to determine if there is a products liability cause of action), and whether any recognized violations of scaffold safety were known to the general contractor. Based on that investigation, a lawsuit against one of those entities may be brought. We have done this successfully hundreds of times.
What Should I Do to Make Sure My Rights Are Preserved After an Accident?
If you are injured at work, you should, first and foremost, seek prompt medical treatment. Giving immediate notice to your employer is also important. When you see your health care providers, you should always give a detailed history of the injury. This includes your first visit to the emergency room or your family doctor. If you are injured at work, you are entitled to workers' comp benefits.
Sometimes the workers' compensation insurance company will try to deny you medical treatment; you should not allow this. You should also never trust the insurance company's calculation of your disability benefits. It will often err and cost you money every week. You may be sent to a work clinic initially after your injury. Sometimes, those company doctors do not have your best interest in mind. You should remember that you always have the right to see a physician of your own choosing.