An Introduction to Illinois Workers’ Compensation Law

If you've been injured at work, you might be wondering how you will be able to afford your medical treatment, especially if you are so severely injured that you can't go back to work right away.

Rest easy. Under Illinois law, most employees who suffer on-the-job injuries are entitled to health care coverage through their employer's workers' compensation insurance.

What Injuries Are Covered?

Nearly every employee who works in Illinois is entitled to workers' compensation coverage. Eligibility starts at the moment the job begins.

Workers' compensation coverage extends to injuries that are caused, in whole or in part, by the employee's work. This includes injuries caused by workplace accidents as well as nonaccident-related injuries such as repetitive work injuries and occupational diseases like exposure-related cancers.

Workers can also receive coverage for aggravation of pre-existing conditions, so long as they can show a relationship between their work and the increased severity of their condition.

How Do I Claim My Benefits?

If you suffer a work-related injury, report it to your employer right away. Follow your employer's rules for reporting an injury. If you don't know the rules, or your company doesn't have a procedure, report the injury to the manager on duty.

A verbal notice is legally sufficient, but it's best to give written notice. However, because your written notice can be used as evidence later on, Illinois workers' compensation attorneys advise injured workers to only include the minimum notice requirements: the date and location of the accident, a brief description of the injury, and the employee's name, address and telephone number.

In most circumstances, you need to give notice to your employer within 45 days of becoming injured. If you don't, you could lose all your benefits.

How Do My Bills Get Paid?

Under Illinois workers' compensation law, the employer is required to pay for all medical care that is "reasonably necessary" to help the employee recover. Employees cannot be required to pay any co-pays or deductibles.

In most cases, your medical care provider will be paid directly by your employer's insurance company.

What If My Coverage Is Denied?

Sometimes insurance companies may deny coverage for claims that should be eligible. If this happens, you need to contact an experienced Illinois workers' compensation attorney right away.