It’s time to get STRONG. Call our workers’ compensation lawyers today for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.309-688-5297
We Are Working Workers' Comp Lawyers for Working People
When you are injured on the job in Illinois, the workers’ compensation attorney you choose to represent you can have a significant impact on the outcome of your case. At Strong Law Offices, our work injury lawyers have been successfully handling workplace injury cases for over 25 years, and we have recovered millions of dollars for injured workers in Peoria and the surrounding communities.
Why Choose Strong Law Offices for Your Workers’ Compensation Case?
Workers’ compensation attorneys in Illinois are not all equal in skill, experience, service, and perseverance. From the moment you retain our legal team for your work injury case, you’ll notice the Strong Law Offices difference.
What Is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault benefit system that is designed to provide workers with a surefire means to recover compensation for medical bills and lost wages if they are injured on the job or become ill because of workplace exposure.
Before the Workers’ Compensation Act, workers who were injured on the job were forced to file personal injury lawsuits against their employers and prove negligence to alleviate the financial impact that accompanied their workplace exposures or accidents. Unfortunately, injured workers and the surviving family members of those who were killed were rarely successful in these lawsuits. When their efforts were successful, negligent employers were often burdened with massive out-of-pocket jury awards that were frequently perceived as unreasonable.
In 1912, businesses and laborers entered into the “Grand Bargain” to eliminate these challenges. In exchange for the right to sue their employers for negligence after suffering a work-related injury, workers agreed to a no-fault system that provided them with the ability to receive medical care and recover a portion of their lost wages after a workplace accident regardless of fault. While employers gave up their right to fault-based legal defenses, the dollar amounts they would have to pay for work-related injuries became limited.
Workers’ compensation is now known as the exclusive remedy for injured workers to recover compensation after suffering serious injuries or death. Generally, employers are now immune to personal injury lawsuits. A few exceptions may apply, however.
- Employer’s intentional misconduct
- Employer’s failure to maintain workers’ compensation insurance
- Self-inflicted injuries
- Worker intoxication
- Worker’s violation of the law
Who Is Covered Under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act?
Approximately 91% of the Illinois workforce is covered by the Workers’ Compensation Act. Independent contractors, self-employed workers, and some workers in specialty occupations are not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
Illinois requires almost all employers to maintain workers’ compensation insurance to cover every worker they hire. The majority of employers are compliant with the law because those who willfully fail to maintain insurance can be fined $500 per day with a minimum of $10,000.
What Workers’ Compensation Benefits Are Available for Injured Workers?
A wide range of benefits may be available to you through the workers’ compensation system. While most on-the-job injuries will entitle you to medical expenses and a portion of your lost wages, more serious injuries may make you eligible for additional benefits like vocational rehabilitation or lifetime disability.
Some of the benefits available to injured workers in Illinois include:
You may be entitled to receive up to 66-⅔ % of your weekly earnings. If you must take a job that pays less or you are unable to work full-time while you recover, a wage differential equal to ⅔ of the difference between your pre-injury earnings and your current earnings may be available.
All of your necessary medical expenses that arise because of your injury must be covered by your employer. This includes everything from medications and equipment to hospitalizations, surgeries, and specialized care.
Total Disability Benefits
If you are temporarily unable to perform any type of work, you may qualify for Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefits. After you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI), if your doctor determines that your injuries caused you to be permanently unable to perform any type of work, you will qualify for Permanent Total Disability (PTD) benefits. These benefits also apply if you lost the use of both of your hands, arms, feet, legs, eyes, or any two of the above. PTD benefits will be payable for the rest of your life.
Partial Disability Benefits
If you are permanently unable to perform all of the duties of your job after your accident but you find that you can perform some of the activities you could perform before you were hurt, you may qualify for Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) benefits.
Death Benefits for Surviving Family Members
If your loved one was killed in a work-related accident, you may be entitled to death benefits. These weekly benefits will be paid to the surviving spouse for up to 25 years or when payments total $500,000 – whichever is greater – and to surviving children of the worker who was killed until the children reach 18. If a surviving child is still enrolled in school, he or she may qualify for death benefits until age 25.
Industries with Special Worker Protection Laws
Workers in some industries are not covered by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. If you are a railroad worker or you perform your work-related duties on the waterways of Illinois, you may be protected by alternative work-injury laws.
The Jones Act protects workers who perform their work-related duties on boats or vessels. For a claim to be successful, injured workers and their work injury attorneys must demonstrate that the employer was negligent and that the company’s negligence caused the employee to be hurt. A successful claim under the Jones Act entitles workers to compensation for medical bills, past and future economic losses, pain and suffering, and loss of quality of life
The Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) applies to railroad workers in Illinois. Under the Act, the injured worker must prove that the employer’s negligence caused the employee’s injuries. Workers who achieve a successful outcome in a FELA claim are entitled to compensation for 100% of lost past and future wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, loss of quality of life, and more.
How Common Are Workplace Injuries in Illinois?
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics releases statistical reports every year that reveal the number of workplace fatalities and non-fatal accidents. The most recent data available (2019) reveals that in Illinois:
- The construction industry saw the highest rate of deaths. In 2019, 30 construction workers were killed.
- In warehousing and private transportation, 24 workers lost their lives.
- There were 158 work-related deaths.
- 90% of those who lost their lives were men.
Common Types of Workplace Accidents in Illinois
Employees can be injured while performing a wide range of work-related activities, and accident injuries range from minor to severe. The chance of becoming injured in a workplace accident is much greater when workers are performing certain work activities, however. And some types of workplace accidents are more common than others, like factory accidents, construction accidents, or firefighter injuries. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, some of the most common types of workplace accidents include:
Common Types of Workplace Injuries
Sometimes workers’ compensation claims arise when employees suffer minor, temporary injuries like sprains or simple fractures. Oftentimes, however, work-related injuries are severe enough to be permanently disabling or even deadly. Some of the most common injuries that cause employees to miss time from work include:
Most Dangerous Occupations
Workplace injuries happen in all occupations, but some industries are more dangerous than others. In Illinois, the most dangerous occupations are in the following industries:
Healthcare Nursing Home & Home Care Workers
Agriculture, forestry, fishing & hunting
Warehousing & storage
What to Do if You Were Injured on the Job in Illinois
If you are injured in a workplace accident, it is imperative that you take the following steps to protect your right to recover compensation.
Filing a Third-Party Claim for a Work Injury in Illinois
Some work-related injuries are caused by the negligence of someone other than the employer. Examples include car accidents where the other driver was negligent, injuries caused by defective equipment, and injuries caused by unsafe contractors or subcontractors. If someone else contributed to your work-related injury, our personal injury lawyers and workers’ comp lawyers will file personal injury claims against negligent third parties to ensure your settlement is maximized.
Frequently Asked Questions About Workers’ Compensation Claims in Illinois
Obtaining an experienced workers’ compensation attorney is the best methodology for maximizing a workers’ compensation settlement. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney should be knowledgeable as to the documentation necessary to substantiate permanent partial disability benefits, wage loss benefits, permanent total disability benefits, future and/or prospective medical care, and other benefits that may be needed to treat or alleviate the injured workers’ medical condition for the duration of his or her life.
If an injured worker cannot return to work after a work injury, he or she may be entitled to a loss of occupation award due to an inability of the injured worker to return to his or her usual and customary line of employment. Alternatively, the injured worker may be entitled to a wage loss or wage differential award if the injured worker is able to return to work in an alternative trade or profession, albeit at a substantially reduced rate of pay. Wage differential awards are payable to age 68, or five years from the date of injury. Alternatively, if the injured worker cannot return to any form of employment, the injured worker may be entitled to permanent and total disability benefits for the duration of his or her life.
Permanent partial disability awards and/or settlements are determined by a mathematical formula using 60% of the injured employee’s average weekly wage, commonly referred to as the PPD factor. A percentage of permanent partial disability for the affected body part is then calculated by an assigned number of weeks under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. The legal percentage of permanent partial disability multiplied by the permanent partial disability rate equals the permanent partial disability settlement.
The role of the workers’ compensation adjuster is to “adjust” the worker’s injury claim that occurred in the workplace. The adjuster is analogous to a quarterback for a football team. An adjuster will make day to day decisions on what benefits will be paid to the injured worker within a range of authority given to the adjuster by his or her superiors.
A workers’ compensation injury can affect future employment if the injury itself causes an inability of the injured worker to perform his usual and customary job activities in his or her chosen profession. An injured worker, who has obtained permanent work restrictions may be disabled from returning to their prior occupation. If an injured worker cannot return to his prior occupation, he or she may be entitled to vocational rehabilitation or educational retraining for a new profession or new career.
An injured worker does not have to talk to an adjuster. In fact, it is advisable that no statements be given to an adjuster about the facts and circumstances of a work-related injury or the ongoing medical care or needs of the injured workers. Oftentimes, insurance adjusters will take statements out of context to deny insurance benefits.
You can speak with a workers’ compensation adjuster by contacting the workers’ compensation department of the insurance carrier and request to speak to the assigned adjuster. Typically, a workers’ compensation claim will be assigned a claim number and the assigned adjuster can be identified by using the claim number. It is important to note that any statements, however, made to an adjuster can be later used against the injured worker. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can assist in appropriate and required communications with an insurance adjuster to provide necessary documentation of a work-related injury.
A workers’ compensation insurance carrier can cut off or deny temporary total disability benefits for multiple reasons. One reason could be a failure to adequately document reasonable and necessary medical care. Another reason could be a workers’ compensation insurance investigation concludes that an accident or incident is not work-related. The most frequent reason for denial of benefits is typically an allegation of a pre existing medical condition.
Insurance carriers oftentimes utilize the law to require medical examinations be performed on injured workers. Insurance carriers are very experienced in defending or minimizing workers’ compensation injuries. One tool that insurance carriers use is to send injured workers to medical providers who they feel will give biased medical opinions which minimize injuries. These physicians are referred to as “independent medical examiners.” These physicians often categorically deny giving false statements or false information. Rather, independent medical providers often couch their statements in the form of medical opinions and, therefore, such physicians frequently deny making false statements.
Whether or not to settle a workers’ compensation case varies from accident to accident or case to case. Settlement oftentimes is determined on whether or not future medical treatment is needed or required. Future medical treatment can be future prescription medications, future surgeries, or other necessary medical care. Obtaining an experienced workers’ compensation attorney is helpful in determining whether an injured worker should settle a work comp case.
The highest workers’ compensation settlement is a permanent and total disability award under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. A total permanent disability award requires the employer or the employer’s insurance carrier to pay to the injured worker lifetime medical benefits and lifetime weekly permanent total disability checks for the reminder and duration of the injured worker’s life. The present day value of a permanent total disability award requires intricate mathematical calculations depending on the interest and/or discount rate that is currently available on the open financial market. Obtaining an experienced workers’ compensation attorney is helpful in determining a workers’ compensation settlement.
This depends on the fine print contained in the workers’ compensation settlement contract. Careful examination of the fine print and terms of the settlement agreement are required in order to determine what, if any, future medical rights exist. Also, has lifetime medical benefits been preserved, an MSA account set up, and/or future increased disability provisions been waived or retained by the injured worker? These are all considerations which determine what happens after a workers’ compensation case is settled.
Workers’ compensation settlements vary from case to case and require a multi-factor analysis. Obtaining an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can increase your chances to maximize your settlement. Experienced workers’ compensation attorneys can assist in obtaining narrative reports to document permanent partial disability, permanent work restrictions, inability to return to usual and customary employment, loss of ability to perform activities of daily living, loss of strength, loss of range of motion, and also impairment ratings under the AMA 6th Edition Guidelines.
A fair workers’ compensation settlement varies from case to case. There is no compensation for pain and suffering in a workers’ compensation case, which is much different than a personal injury case. A fair workers’ compensation settlement compensates for permanent partial disability, wage loss, and/or wage differential benefits, total permanent disability benefits, lifetime medical benefits, and prospective medical care.
Workers’ compensation payments in Illinois are exempt as “income” as defined by the Internal Revenue Service. Receipts of weekly workers’ compensation benefits and/or lump sum settlements for workers’ compensation claims are tax exempt.
In most cases, you are barred from suing your employer directly for work-related injuries. Some exceptions apply, however. If your employer intentionally caused your injury, denied your work injury claim in bad faith, was grossly negligent, or does not maintain workers’ compensation insurance, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the company or entity to recover compensation.
It depends. If you were injured while performing work-related duties, you are likely covered by workers’ compensation. However, if you were running private errands or performing activities that were not related to your work, your injuries may not be covered. A workers’ comp lawyer can evaluate your case to help determine whether your injuries are covered under the Workers’ Compensation Act.
It is illegal for your employer to demote you, withhold a promotion, fire you, or punish you in any way for filing a workers’ compensation claim. Federal and state laws are in place to protect injured workers from employer retaliation.
Maybe. If you are classified as a full or part-time employee and you were performing work-related duties when the accident happened, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. If you were on a business trip and were conducting personal business when you were injured, your injuries will probably not be covered by workers’ compensation insurance. However, if you were hurt because of someone else’s negligence, you may be able to recover compensation by filing an injury claim or lawsuit against the responsible party.
Are all work injuries covered by workers’ compensation insurance in Illinois?
- Injuries that occur while an employee is impaired by alcohol, drugs, or prescription medications are generally not covered.
- Intentionally self-inflicted injuries are not covered.
- Injuries that happen while an employee is violating company policy are not covered.
- If the worker is committing a serious crime when the work-related injuries happen, they are not likely to be covered.
If you were injured while performing your work duties in Illinois, you are entitled to receive:
- Medical care at no cost to you
- Vocational rehabilitation for free
- Financial compensation to cover a portion of your lost wages
- Compensation to pay for permanent disabilities
If your loved one passed away before filing a personal injury lawsuit against the entity responsible for his or her death, the estate may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit on behalf of the deceased person to collect damages. Additionally, the deceased’s spouse or children may be able to recover damages to compensate them for the loss of the loved one’s income, benefits, and household contributions.
Property owners have a legal duty to keep their premises safe. If the property was in dangerous condition, the owner knew about or should have known about the danger and had time to remedy or warn about the problem but did not, and the dangerous condition proximately caused your injuries, the property owner was likely negligent.
If you were injured in an accident, the first thing you should do is notify the police and then seek medical treatment right away. Since the symptoms of some injuries might not show up immediately, you should be evaluated by a medical professional even if you don’t think your injuries are severe. If you are able, take photos of the accident scene and anything that might have contributed to the incident and gather contact information for any witnesses. While you should notify your insurance company as soon as is practical, you should avoid going into too much detail or accepting a settlement offer until after you have consulted with a personal injury attorney.
Pain and suffering refers to the amount of pain, mental anguish, inconvenience, loss of quality of life, and loss of companionship you have been and will continue to be forced to endure because of your injuries. These noneconomic damages are difficult to value in monetary terms. In most cases, pain and suffering is calculated using a percentage of your tangible losses.
Most car accident lawyers do not charge up-front fees. Rather, injury attorneys generally work on a contingency basis. This means your lawyer’s fees will only be paid when your settlement is received.
The court will review the evidence that is presented during the trial to determine who was at fault in your car accident cases. The jury will likely review photos of the crash scene, hear witness statements, and listen to expert opinions as well as the arguments made by your attorney.
Settlement offers can remain open for indefinite periods of time or, alternatively, settlement offers can remain open for only for limited periods of time. Oftentimes, insurance carriers put time limits on settlement offers in order to entice injury victims into quick settlements. An experienced personal injury attorney can assist in determining how long a settlement offer will or could remain open.
It is advisable that the first settlement offer should never be accepted. Typically, insurance carriers will make low settlement offers and offer quick payment in order to entice an unknowledgeable injury victim into accepting a settlement that does not reasonably and fairly compensate the accident or injury victim. Obtaining an experienced personal injury attorney who can assist you in making a settlement determination can be helpful.
Most civil law matters settle out of court. Typically, 95% of cases are settled out of court. Obtaining an experienced personal injury attorney who has taken cases to trial can lead to an optimization of your settlement. However, if the settlement is low, an experienced personal injury attorney is needed in order to navigate the difficult civil justice and accident system.
The amount of monetary compensation from an accident varies from case to case and accident to accident. Each accident has unique factual circumstances. For example, disfigurement or scarring injuries oftentimes have very small amounts of medical expenses, but lead to a lifetime of disfigurement and can result in very large personal injury settlements. Conversely, soft tissue injuries oftentimes do not achieve high settlement results without the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney.
The length of time for a settlement to be processed can vary from case to case. It is not advisable to settle a personal injury case if medical treatment is ongoing and the injured party has not reached maximum medical improvement. The length of time for settlement oftentimes depends on the medical recovery process. It also can depend on whether a lawsuit is necessary to achieve a successful settlement. Obtaining an experienced personal injury attorney knowledgeable in expediting settlements can be helpful.
A settlement can be paid out in many forms. Typically, insurance carriers payout settlements by a check or draft on the insurance companies’ checking account. However, direct deposits can be requested and are oftentimes obtained particularly with the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney.
Rejection of settlement offers is part of the negotiation to achieve the best settlement possible. Under contract law, once an offer is rejected, that offer becomes null and void. Alternatively, you can make a counteroffer in hopes of receiving a better offer. A verbal acceptance of an offer can result in a binding agreement. Negotiations with insurance companies can be difficult and challenging. Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney will help avoid the pitfalls of settlement negotiations.
Insurance companies oftentimes will make a low first offer for property damage to cars damaged by negligent drivers. Insurance carriers for at-fault parties are responsible for the fair market value of property damage. It is recommended that an independent appraisal from the dealership be obtained. Alternatively, there are many online sources that will give you a range of fair market value for the property damage done to your vehicle.
There is no set rule or formula for determining pain and suffering. Pain and suffering is determined on a case-by-case basis and is a very subjective standard. There is no diagnostic test or methodology to quantify or measure pain and suffering. However, an experienced personal injury attorney can highlight medical facts and evidence from the ordinary experiences of life to maximize settlements for pain and suffering.
A good settlement offer should make the injured party whole. A good settlement offer should provide compensation for medical expenses incurred in the past and medical expenses to be incurred in the future. A good settlement offer should also compensate for the lost wages sustained. Most importantly, a good settlement offer should provide monetary compensation for the loss of a normal life and/or permanent disability. Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney knowledgeable in good settlement offers for car accidents and negligence can be very helpful.
Retaining an attorney will oftentimes maximize a money settlement from a car accident. An experienced personal injury attorney will examine the liability of the at-fault party. An experienced attorney will also investigate the accident scene, the force of impact, and the nature and extent of the injuries and damages.
Insurance companies determine settlement amounts by examining many factors. Insurance carriers examine the liability or responsibility of the at-fault party, otherwise referred to as the insured. The insurance carriers also examine the medical expenses incurred and lost wages incurred. However, insurance carriers also use negative factors, such as past claims, pre-existing conditions, criminal background checks, background investigations, and accident scene pictures or photographs which minimize the force of impact. Obtaining an attorney for an insurance claim will oftentimes render a larger settlement.
A reasonable settlement for a car accident can vary from State to State. In Illinois, there are several factors used to determine what is a reasonable settlement. These factors include, but are not limited to the following:
- Is liability of the at-fault party accepted or denied by the insurance company?
- What is the total amount of medical expenses incurred by the injured party?
- What are the lost wages or lost future earnings incurred?
- What is the nature and extent of the injuries involved?
- What are the future damages?
- What is the loss of a normal life?
There is no set mathematical formula for determining what is a reasonable settlement. Obtaining an attorney who is experienced in automobile accident settlements will generally obtain higher settlements than non-represented injured persons.
Great place to go if you are in need of a good lawyer. They also work with amazing doctors. Amazing group of down to earth regular people.
Jurisdictions We Serve
The workers’ compensation attorneys at Strong Law Offices provide legal representation to injured workers in Peoria, Springfield, Bloomington, Chicago, Champaign, and the surrounding communities. Our law firm offers free case evaluations. Evening, weekend, and off-site appointments are available on request.
We have lawyers working in the following practice areas: