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Michael Agruss

Written and Reviewed by Michael Agruss

  • Managing Partner and Personal Injury Lawyer at Mike Agruss Law.
  • Over 20 years of experience in Personal Injury.
  • Over 8000+ consumer rights cases settled.
  • Graduated from the University of Illinois Chicago School of Law: Juris Doctor, 2004.

Got injured at work in Illinois? You are not alone. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were over 2.6 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported in the U.S. in 2021 alone. But don’t worry, our team of Illinois workers’ compensation lawyers is here to help you get back on your feet and ensure that your rights to compensation are fully protected.

Workers’ comp in Illinois is designed to do more than just cover a part of your lost wages. It can also help with medical bills, disability payments, and even retraining if you cannot go back to your old job. If the unthinkable happens and someone you love dies from a work-related injury, we can guide you through the process of claiming wrongful death benefits as well.

At Mike Agruss Law, our experienced Illinois workers’ comp lawyers are dedicated to make sure you get the maximum financial compensation you are entitled to. Reach out to us for a free, no-strings-attached case evaluation today.

Common Causes of Workplace Accidents

With the highly demanding workplace environment at most factory floors, construction sites, shopping centers, offices, and industrial settings, accidents can happen in a variety of ways. That said, some types are more common than others:

Slips, trips, and falls

Whether it’s a wet floor or a cluttered workstation, falling down and getting injured is more common than you may think. In fact, the National Safety Council reports that falls accounted for 211,640 work-related injuries and 805 workers’ deaths in 2020 alone.

Getting hit by objects

Ever had a box fall off a shelf? Or maybe a tool slips out of someone’s hand? These accidents can cause anything from minor bruises to serious head injuries.

Equipment-related accidents

If you are working with heavy machinery, there is ALWAYS a risk. From getting a hand stuck in a machine to more severe accidents (like losing a limb), these incidents can be devastating.

Motor vehicle accidents

For those who drive as part of their job, car or truck accidents are a real concern. 2023 is not even over and yet according to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), there have been 697 fatal crashes in the state where 756 people have lost their lives.

Electrical accidents

Anyone working around high-voltage machinery, electrical panels, or exposed wiring is vulnerable to minor shocks, severe electrocutions, and even burn injuries.

Chemical exposure

Jobs in laboratories, cleaning services, and manufacturing plants usually involve handling chemicals. Without proper safety measures, workers might be exposed to chemicals that can be absorbed through the skin. This is called systemic poisoning and can result in respiratory issues, severe burns, or lung damage. Some chemicals, like benzene or formaldehyde, are even carcinogenic and known to increase the risk of developing cancer.

Fires and explosions

These are rare but they do happen. At a construction site where flammable materials are stored, a simple spark from a tool can ignite vapors. In a restaurant kitchen, an undetected gas leak can cause a massive explosion. In industrial facilities, like chemical plants, the stakes are even higher; one chemical reaction gone wrong could result in a big enough explosion that affects nearby communities.

Repetitive stress injuries

The thing with repetitive stress or strain injuries is, they are hard to notice at first. If your job requires you to type all day or you are on an assembly line and have to perform the same wrist movement hundreds of times a day, that’s how you get carpal tunnel syndrome or tendonitis. These injuries can affect your work and might even require extensive physical therapy or surgery.

Workplace violence

As unfortunate as it is, conflicts with customers or other employees can escalate, and result in physical harm. In 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that there were 392 workplace homicides in the U.S.

Lack of proper training

Sometimes, it’s not about the job but how well you are prepared for it. Imagine being asked to operate a forklift with zero training or deal with dangerous chemicals without knowing the right safety guidelines. This lack of preparation means you could drop heavy loads, spill unsafe substances, or even cause machinery to break down. The result? Broken bones and chemical burns, at best.

Defective or missing safety gear

In high-risk workplaces like labs and construction sites, workers rely on their protective gear to keep them safe while they are busy doing their jobs. But if their employers don’t provide the necessary gear or it’s all worn-out, it can result in all kinds of injuries – damage to the spinal cord, vision loss, hearing loss, lung issues, head injuries, and more.

How to Know if You are Eligible for Collecting Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Illinois is a no-fault state for workers’ compensation. This means you are generally eligible for benefits regardless of who caused the accident, unless of course, you were intoxicated or intentionally harmed yourself.

You also need to be an employee, and not an independent contractor or freelancer to get these benefits. This distinction is critical because by law, workers’ comp only covers an injured employee. Next, the injury or illness must be work-related, i.e., it must have happened while you were doing something on behalf of your employer. It could be as simple as slipping on a wet floor at the office or as complicated as developing carpal tunnel syndrome from repetitive tasks. Even injuries occurring at company events or during work-related travel may be covered.

Another thing to keep in mind here is the timing. Generally speaking, you have 45 days to report an accident to your employer. If you don’t notify them within this window, you might lose your right to all workers’ comp benefits. Once you report the accident, your employer is legally required to provide you with a list of doctors for initial treatment. If you choose to go to your own doctor, you might have to pay the bill out of your own pocket.

As for what kind of benefits you could get, here they are:

  • Medical benefits: These cover all necessary medical treatment, including surgeries, prescription medications, and rehabilitation (like physical therapy).
  • Temporary total disability (TTD): If you cannot work at all while recovering, you may qualify for TTD benefits, which are generally two-thirds of your average weekly wage.
  • Temporary partial disability (TPD): If you can work but not at full capacity (like part-time or a less demanding role), you may get TPD benefits to make up the wage difference.
  • Permanent total disability benefits (PTD) or permanent partial disability benefits (PPD): These are for long-term or permanent injuries. The amount and duration of these benefits depends on how severe your condition is and how it has affected your ability to work.
  • Vocational rehabilitation: If you cannot return to your old job, you might be eligible for retraining for a new one or job placement services.
  • Death benefits: When injured employees pass away, their immediate family members may receive benefits.

To officially start the process, you’ll need to file a claim with the Illinois Workers Compensation Commission (IWCC). This is separate from notifying your employer and is usually done by filling out an Application for Adjustment of Claim. You have up to three years from the date of the injury to file this claim, but the sooner, the better.

How to Proceed with a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Illinois

Once you have notified your employer (within 45 days of your accident), AND received whatever urgent medical attention you needed, start documenting everything. Keep thorough records of all medical treatments, bills, and any correspondence with your employer or their insurance company. This can prove to be key evidence for your claim.

Next, you will need to file an official claim with the Illinois Workers Compensation Commission by filling out an “Application for Adjustment of Claim” form. You have three years from the date of the injury to do this, but sooner is always better.

Having an experienced workers’ compensation attorney is important at this time because:

  1. a) they can help you fill out all the paperwork correctly,
  2. b) if your claim is denied for any reason, they can appeal that decision on your behalf.

If a dispute arises between you and your employer or their insurance company, the IWCC will assign an arbitrator to your case. Your attorney will present evidence, such as your medical records and witness testimonies, to support your injured workers compensation claim.

However, if you are unhappy with the arbitrator’s decision, you can then appeal to the IWCC’s three-member panel. If that doesn’t work either, you can appeal to the Illinois Circuit Court, Appellate Court, and even the Illinois Supreme Court, but this is rare.

After your claim is approved, you will either receive a lump-sum settlement or ongoing benefits, depending on the type and severity of your work-related injury. Keep in mind that even after a claim is approved, you may still need to provide additional documentation or attend medical evaluations to continue receiving benefits.

How Much Do Workers’ Comp Lawyers Charge in Illinois?

Most Chicago workers’ compensation attorneys like those at Mike Agruss Law usually work on a contingency fee basis, so they only get paid if you obtain a settlement. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act caps the attorney’s fees at 20% of the compensation you receive. So, if you are awarded $100,000 in benefits, your attorney would get $20,000.

We recommend discussing the fee structure upfront and get it in writing. Some Chicago workers’ compensation lawyers tend to charge extra for expenses like filing fees, expert witness fees, or costs related to procuring medical records. These are sometimes separate from the contingency fee and may be payable whether you win or lose your case.

Always ask for a detailed breakdown of all potential costs and fees before you hire an attorney. This will help you understand the financial aspect of your case and avoid any surprises later on.

How Long Does a Workers’ Comp Case Take to Settle in Illinois?

The time it takes to settle a workers’ comp case in Illinois can vary on a case-by-case basis. It depends on how bad your injuries are, how quickly the insurance company acts, and if you have to go to court. To give you a general idea:

  • First, doctors need to perform a thorough evaluation of your injuries – this can take weeks.
  • After you file your claim, your employer and their insurance will look into it – this also takes a few weeks.
  • Sometimes, both sides try to agree on a payout to avoid court – this can last a month or more.
  • If no agreement is reached, you will go to a hearing that can take several months to schedule and prepare for.
  • If anyone disagrees with the court’s decision, they can appeal it – this adds several more months to the process.

Straightforward workers’ compensation cases where everything goes smoothly and there are no disagreements/appeals, are wrapped up in a few months. But complicated cases can take over a year. Talk to your workers’ compensation lawyer for the most accurate timeline for your specific case.

How Our Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Can Help

Being forced to take time off work because of sustaining an injury that was not your fault, it’s stressful to say the least. Having an experienced lawyer means you have someone in your corner, looking out for your best interests. You can focus on getting better while we handle your claim. Here is what we can do for you:

Filing the claim

Just like any legal process, workers’ compensation claims involve a lot of paperwork. As your Illinois workers’ compensation attorneys, we will help you report your injury to your employer in a way that protects your rights, then handle all the forms and deadlines, so everything is filed correctly. One mistake could delay your claim or even get it denied.

Gathering evidence

To show the true extent of your injuries, you need to provide more than a regular doctor’s notes. In addition to collecting all the hospital and medical records, we will talk to any witnesses who saw your accident, and even go to the site ourselves to capture the right pictures (to prove unsafe conditions or lack of safety gear in case of accidents in construction sites).

Negotiating with insurance providers

The sooner you internalize this, the better: the one main goal of insurance companies is to pay you as little as they can get away with. One common tactic we see is insurers offering a quick – and extremely unfair – settlement, hoping the worker will take it out of desperation. We advise you not to take this bait.

Instead, allow us to negotiate aggressively on your behalf and use all the medical records and witness statements we have collected, to your benefit. We will also bring in the expert testimonies to make your case even stronger.

And if the insurance company tries to dispute your claim, we know how to counter their arguments effectively by presenting legal precedents and specific clauses in Illinois’ workers’ compensation laws to back you up.

Helping with your medical treatment

While we focus on fighting for you at the negotiation table or in the courtroom, we will point you to the best medical care providers and rehabilitation specialists in Illinois who specialize in work injuries. These doctors know what tests to run and what treatments are most effective, which is extremely important for your recovery.

But that’s not all. These specialized doctors also know how to document your injuries in a way that supports your claim. They will make sure to note the severity of your injuries, the treatments you need, and how long it might take for you to get back to work. This kind of thorough medical record can be powerful evidence when you are trying to prove your case.

Calculating benefits

This is more complicated than you may think. We will look at your medical expenses and lost income to determine exactly how much compensation you need to cover your current hospital bills, future treatments, and even disability benefits if your injury has long-term effects. We also factor in the money you would have made in the future if you had not been injured.

Going to court

If your claim is rejected or the insurance company’s offer is too low or the employer failed to carry workers’ compensation insurance, we will be ready to take your case to court. That’s where we will bring in all the evidence and question the other side’s witnesses to poke holes in their story.

With decades of combined litigation experience in Illinois courts, our legal team knows how to make a jury or judge see the full picture of what happened to you. And if things don’t work out, we will appeal the decision to higher courts.

Schedule Your Free Case Review with the Trusted Illinois Workers’ Comp Attorneys

Whether your injury is the result of a one-time accident or years of wear and tear, let us leverage our decades of experience focusing solely on personal injury law and workers’ compensation law in Illinois – for your benefit. We know how overwhelming the Illinois workers’ compensation system can be. You are probably worried about how your employer or the insurance company will react to you filing a workers’ comp claim.

Leave that to us. If your employer tries to retaliate or claim they don’t carry union workers’ compensation insurance, they will have to answer to us in court. If you have any questions or concerns, please call us at 312-300-5996 (local) or 844-SEE-MIKE (toll-free), or complete this form. Our law firm has offices strategically located in Aurora, Naperville, Elmhurst, Joliet, Oak Brook, Peoria, Springfield, and Chicago IL, for your convenience.

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