Work-Related Injuries--What Are Your Rights?
Anyone who is injured "arising out of" or "in the course of" his or her employment is entitled to compensation under the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act. if you are working and doing your job, this generally means that you are covered. This includes car accidents that occur while you are on a sales call!
There are many exceptions and the law is complex and ever-evolving. That's one reason why you need an experienced attorney who is familiar with the ins and outs of this area to guide you through the process. Before you get to that point, though, you need to know what to do in the moments immediately after you are hurt while working.
Workers' compensation in Illinois covers three main areas--lost time, medical benefits, and permanency. Explanations of the benefits to which you are entitled can be found in another blog post following this one.
If you do get hurt at work, this is what you should do:
- Report the incident immediately to your supervisor and/or human resources department. If possible, do this in writing and ask for a copy of the incident report.
- Seek medical treatment immediately. Although the law has recently changed, you are entitled to see at least one, and in most cases, two doctors of your own choice, plus any referrals from those doctors. I can explain the intricacies of medical choices and the law to you in more detail in person. The most important thing to know is that you have the right to be seen by any doctor you wish--do not be bullied into thinking you are required to see the doctor at the clinic recommended by your employer!
- Take photos. Try to photograph the floor where you slipped, the machine that caused your injury, or your workstation, cubicle, or desk. This preserves evidence and supports your claim.
- Contact an attorney as soon as possible. Do not provide a statement to your employer's insurance company.
Workers' comp is a very complex and confusing area of the law. Knowing your basic rights will make a difficult situation less painful and provide you with the compensation to which you are entitled.