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What to Do After Workplace Injury

by | Oct 28, 2022 | Personal Injury |

A man experiencing lower back pain at work in a warehouse.

Knowing what to do after workplace injury can help strengthen your workers’ compensation claim. It can also help protect your rights to financial recovery from third parties that might have contributed to your workplace injury. Reporting occupational injuries and seeking medical attention are the most crucial steps after getting injured on the job. Other crucial steps include understanding your rights and filing your claim within the statute of limitations. Retaining a lawyer can also protect your rights and help you collect the benefits you are eligible for under the Workers’ Compensation Act.

What to Do After a Workplace Injury

Reporting Occupational Injuries

Under Illinois law, you have 45 days from when the accident that caused your occupational injuries happened to report your injury to your employer. You must also report an occupational injury caused by repetitive use or exposure to hazardous conditions within 45 days of discovering the injury is work-related.

Some employers have policies that require injured workers to file an accident report before 45 days to be eligible for compensation. While the law takes precedence over policies, it is always advisable to report occupational injuries as soon as possible.

It is also wise to report a workplace accident, even if you did not sustain any obvious injuries. Accidents often cause hidden injuries, like soft tissue injuries, concussions, or internal damage. These injuries may stay hidden for days or even weeks and cause life-altering consequences if left untreated. So, reporting an occupational accident is a surefire way to protect your rights.

You can report your workplace injury either orally or in writing. It is usually advantageous to do it in writing, as you will have tangible evidence that you informed your employer of your injury. Ensure you have a coworker present when issuing your written notice to your employer. This coworker will be your witness if the employer tries to deny that you provided an injury notice on time.

Your written notice should include specific details of the occupational accident and any eyewitnesses. It should also contain the nature of the injuries sustained. You can answer any questions your employer or its insurance provider might have about your injuries. You don’t have to provide a recorded statement, however.

Seek Medical Care

The best time to seek medical care is soon after sustaining a workplace injury. The sooner you seek treatment, the better your chances of receiving workers’ comp benefits. See a doctor, even if your injuries are minor or you don’t seem injured at all. Only a licensed doctor can examine you to determine your injuries or give you a clean bill of health if you are not injured.

In Illinois, employers usually have a Preferred Provider Program (PPP) and require employees to choose two doctors within that group. Be sure to find out if your employer is part of a PPP group. Doing this will keep you from incurring medical bills that are ineligible for workers’ compensation.

You can seek medical assistance outside a PPP network if emergency treatment is required after a workplace injury. You can also seek care outside a PPP group if you need treatment before notifying the employer of the injury, or if you had formally withdrawn from the group before or after a workplace injury.

Ensure you inform your doctor that your injury is work-related. Then, share all the information regarding your symptoms and aftereffects with your doctor. Honesty is paramount when seeking treatment for a workplace injury. Exaggerating the severity of your condition or downplaying your injuries can hurt your workers’ comp claim.

The doctor will examine you and make notes on your injury’s severity, the treatment required, and whether it will result in short-term or long-term disability. Other crucial information on your doctor’s notes includes your ability to return to work and any pre-existing health problems you might have.

Know Your Rights

Knowing your rights under workers’ comp allows you to navigate the process of pursuing compensation. Your employer is required to retain insurance to cover your injuries in the event of a workplace accident. When you’re hurt at work, workers’ compensation benefits compensate you for your medical bills and other associated expenses.

Illinois law requires your employer to notify the Workers’ Compensation Commission of any workplace accident that keeps you away from work for more than three days. Your employer should provide you with an instructional booklet shortly after receiving your notification. This booklet contains relevant statutes, procedures, and available benefits. You can obtain this booklet from the Commission’s website if your employer seems unwilling to provide it to you.

You may be eligible to collect weekly payments if you miss work to seek treatment and recuperate from your injuries. You will continue receiving the payments and treatment until you are capable of returning to work.

The law also protects you from any discrimination from your employer for pursuing workers’ comp benefits. Discrimination can come in the form of unlawful dismissal, refusal to rehire, and harassment at work.

File a Workers’ Comp Claim within the Statute of Limitations

Workers’ compensation claims have strict filing deadlines, just like personal injury claims. The filing deadlines vary by state. Missing your state-specific deadline bars you from filing a claim and causes you to lose your right to collect compensation for your injuries and lost wages.

If you have suffered an on-the-job injury in Chicago, Illinois, you should file a workers’ comp claim as soon as possible. The Illinois statute of limitations for these claims is three years. The clock, however, begins counting from the date of your on-the-job injury or the date you collected your last payout, whichever date is later is when your three-year filing deadline begins.

If someone apart from your employer or coworkers acted negligently or partially contributed to your injury, you might wonder, “can an injured worker pursue a personal injury lawsuit?” You can pursue compensation through a personal injury lawsuit if a third party is liable for your injuries. Third parties include manufacturers of faulty equipment or machinery and negligent medical providers who worsen an injured worker’s injuries.

The time limits for filing personal injury cases are, however, different from those of workers’ compensation claims. You generally have two years to initiate a personal injury claim in Illinois. The clock for the two-year deadline usually starts ticking on the date of the injury.

Retaining a Workplace Injury Lawyer

Hiring a workplace injury lawyer can help you collect enough compensation to cover your medical bills and other losses. It also allows you to focus your time and energy on recovering from your injuries and improving your overall health. Other ways retaining an aggressive workplace injury lawyer can benefit you include:

Avoiding Costly Blunders 

Workplace injury lawyers who have handled cases similar to yours can avoid technicalities and documentation errors that can lead to a denial decision. They know the laws that apply to your case and strategies for building a strong claim. They are also familiar with paperwork filing procedures and relevant filing deadlines.

Improving Chances of Receiving a Higher Payout 

A 2017 survey by Martindale-Nolo found that 91% of accident victims represented by a lawyer received compensation. Only 51% of those who had no lawyers received compensation. The same survey found that those working with a lawyer received higher compensation than those without a lawyer.

These findings show that you have a better shot at winning a workers’ comp claim and collecting benefits when working with a lawyer than without a lawyer. A knowledgeable lawyer can determine all your losses and calculate the value of your claim accurately. He or she can also push for a higher amount by tactfully engaging the insurance company in a settlement negotiation.

Handling Workers’ Comp Cases Involving Pre-existing Health Conditions 

The guidance of a seasoned lawyer is necessary in workers’ comp cases involving pre-existing health issues or injuries. For instance, your employer may claim that you are ineligible for compensation if you sustain a work-related injury or illness on the same body part that had a pre-existing health problem. In this case, your lawyer will obtain all the necessary medical evidence to show that your injury is from a workplace accident, not a pre-existing health issue. Your lawyer will also get a medical report that explains how the workplace accident exacerbated your pre-existing injury or condition.

Handling Third-Party Claims 

As previously mentioned, you might be eligible for workers’ comp benefits and personal injury damages from a third party. Third-party claims are common among construction workers injured on the job. Illinois lawyers for construction accidents can help injured construction workers determine the compensation amount to pursue from their employers and the amount to pursue from potentially liable third parties. These lawyers understand construction law and can help their clients collect enough compelling evidence to support their claims.

Knowing what to do after workplace injury can help strengthen your workers’ compensation claim. It can also help protect your rights to financial recovery from third parties that might have contributed to your workplace injury. Reporting occupational injuries and seeking medical attention are the most crucial steps after getting injured on the job. Other crucial steps include understanding your rights and filing your claim within the statute of limitations. Retaining a lawyer can also protect your rights and help you collect the benefits you are eligible for under the Workers’ Compensation Act.

What to Do After a Workplace Injury

Reporting Occupational Injuries

Under Illinois law, you have 45 days from when the accident that caused your occupational injuries happened to report your injury to your employer. You must also report an occupational injury caused by repetitive use or exposure to hazardous conditions within 45 days of discovering the injury is work-related.

Some employers have policies that require injured workers to file an accident report before 45 days to be eligible for compensation. While the law takes precedence over policies, it is always advisable to report occupational injuries as soon as possible.

It is also wise to report a workplace accident, even if you did not sustain any obvious injuries. Accidents often cause hidden injuries, like soft tissue injuries, concussions, or internal damage. These injuries may stay hidden for days or even weeks and cause life-altering consequences if left untreated. So, reporting an occupational accident is a surefire way to protect your rights.

You can report your workplace injury either orally or in writing. It is usually advantageous to do it in writing, as you will have tangible evidence that you informed your employer of your injury. Ensure you have a coworker present when issuing your written notice to your employer. This coworker will be your witness if the employer tries to deny that you provided an injury notice on time.

Your written notice should include specific details of the occupational accident and any eyewitnesses. It should also contain the nature of the injuries sustained. You can answer any questions your employer or its insurance provider might have about your injuries. You don’t have to provide a recorded statement, however.

Seek Medical Care

The best time to seek medical care is soon after sustaining a workplace injury. The sooner you seek treatment, the better your chances of receiving workers’ comp benefits. See a doctor, even if your injuries are minor or you don’t seem injured at all. Only a licensed doctor can examine you to determine your injuries or give you a clean bill of health if you are not injured.

In Illinois, employers usually have a Preferred Provider Program (PPP) and require employees to choose two doctors within that group. Be sure to find out if your employer is part of a PPP group. Doing this will keep you from incurring medical bills that are ineligible for workers’ compensation.

You can seek medical assistance outside a PPP network if emergency treatment is required after a workplace injury. You can also seek care outside a PPP group if you need treatment before notifying the employer of the injury, or if you had formally withdrawn from the group before or after a workplace injury.

Ensure you inform your doctor that your injury is work-related. Then, share all the information regarding your symptoms and aftereffects with your doctor. Honesty is paramount when seeking treatment for a workplace injury. Exaggerating the severity of your condition or downplaying your injuries can hurt your workers’ comp claim.

The doctor will examine you and make notes on your injury’s severity, the treatment required, and whether it will result in short-term or long-term disability. Other crucial information on your doctor’s notes includes your ability to return to work and any pre-existing health problems you might have.

Know Your Rights

Knowing your rights under workers’ comp allows you to navigate the process of pursuing compensation. Your employer is required to retain insurance to cover your injuries in the event of a workplace accident. When you’re hurt at work, workers’ compensation benefits compensate you for your medical bills and other associated expenses.

Illinois law requires your employer to notify the Workers’ Compensation Commission of any workplace accident that keeps you away from work for more than three days. Your employer should provide you with an instructional booklet shortly after receiving your notification. This booklet contains relevant statutes, procedures, and available benefits. You can obtain this booklet from the Commission’s website if your employer seems unwilling to provide it to you.

You may be eligible to collect weekly payments if you miss work to seek treatment and recuperate from your injuries. You will continue receiving the payments and treatment until you are capable of returning to work.

The law also protects you from any discrimination from your employer for pursuing workers’ comp benefits. Discrimination can come in the form of unlawful dismissal, refusal to rehire, and harassment at work.

File a Workers’ Comp Claim within the Statute of Limitations

Workers’ compensation claims have strict filing deadlines, just like personal injury claims. The filing deadlines vary by state. Missing your state-specific deadline bars you from filing a claim and causes you to lose your right to collect compensation for your injuries and lost wages.

If you have suffered an on-the-job injury in Chicago, Illinois, you should file a workers’ comp claim as soon as possible. The Illinois statute of limitations for these claims is three years. The clock, however, begins counting from the date of your on-the-job injury or the date you collected your last payout, whichever date is later is when your three-year filing deadline begins.

If someone apart from your employer or coworkers acted negligently or partially contributed to your injury, you might wonder, “can an injured worker pursue a personal injury lawsuit?” You can pursue compensation through a personal injury lawsuit if a third party is liable for your injuries. Third parties include manufacturers of faulty equipment or machinery and negligent medical providers who worsen an injured worker’s injuries.

The time limits for filing personal injury cases are, however, different from those of workers’ compensation claims. You generally have two years to initiate a personal injury claim in Illinois. The clock for the two-year deadline usually starts ticking on the date of the injury.

Retaining a Workplace Injury Lawyer

Hiring a workplace injury lawyer can help you collect enough compensation to cover your medical bills and other losses. It also allows you to focus your time and energy on recovering from your injuries and improving your overall health. Other ways retaining an aggressive workplace injury lawyer can benefit you include:

Avoiding Costly Blunders 

Workplace injury lawyers who have handled cases similar to yours can avoid technicalities and documentation errors that can lead to a denial decision. They know the laws that apply to your case and strategies for building a strong claim. They are also familiar with paperwork filing procedures and relevant filing deadlines.

Improving Chances of Receiving a Higher Payout 

A 2017 survey by Martindale-Nolo found that 91% of accident victims represented by a lawyer received compensation. Only 51% of those who had no lawyers received compensation. The same survey found that those working with a lawyer received higher compensation than those without a lawyer.

These findings show that you have a better shot at winning a workers’ comp claim and collecting benefits when working with a lawyer than without a lawyer. A knowledgeable lawyer can determine all your losses and calculate the value of your claim accurately. He or she can also push for a higher amount by tactfully engaging the insurance company in a settlement negotiation.

Handling Workers’ Comp Cases Involving Pre-existing Health Conditions 

The guidance of a seasoned lawyer is necessary in workers’ comp cases involving pre-existing health issues or injuries. For instance, your employer may claim that you are ineligible for compensation if you sustain a work-related injury or illness on the same body part that had a pre-existing health problem. In this case, your lawyer will obtain all the necessary medical evidence to show that your injury is from a workplace accident, not a pre-existing health issue. Your lawyer will also get a medical report that explains how the workplace accident exacerbated your pre-existing injury or condition.

Handling Third-Party Claims 

As previously mentioned, you might be eligible for workers’ comp benefits and personal injury damages from a third party. Third-party claims are common among construction workers injured on the job. Illinois lawyers for construction accidents can help injured construction workers determine the compensation amount to pursue from their employers and the amount to pursue from potentially liable third parties. These lawyers understand construction law and can help their clients collect enough compelling evidence to support their claims.

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