What You Should Know About Work Injuries
Many years ago, employees could sue their employer if they got hurt on the job. Unfortunately, this led to a lot of uncertainty. Businesses were afraid of being sued into bankruptcy by a single injured worker. Yet, workers had to prove the employer did something wrong in order to be compensated. This often left injured workers permanently disabled with no way to make a living or it exposed businesses to a lot of risk. Therefore, the workers’ compensation system was born.
How Does Work Comp Function?
When a worker is injured in Illinois, it is very important that he or she follows a few basic procedures to protect their rights. Here are the first 3 steps every injured worker should do:
- Immediately notify the employer
- Get the names and phone numbers of any witnesses
- Hire an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer before it’s too late
Deadline for Notice
Every state is different. The first thing to understand is that under workers’ compensation laws, you must provide notice to your employer. If you miss the deadline, your claim is barred.
Illinois – In Illinois, you have just 45 days to notify your employer of your injuries.
Missouri – In Missouri, you only get 30 days to provide notice to your employer.
This means if you suffered a specific injury, such as a fall at work, then you need to make a very quick report to a supervisor or manager. It’s really best that you call a lawyer as soon as possible for guidance.
Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations is an absolute deadline after which you can never file your claim. As a practical matter, it would usually make no sense to wait a long time to bring a work comp claim in Illinois, but this also depends on your state.
Illinois – In Illinois, you have 3 years from the date of the workplace injury or 2 years since your last paycheck from the job, whichever is longer.
Missouri – In Missouri, your time is substantially shorter. You only get 2 years from your injury or 1 year from your last paycheck, whichever is longer.
Of course, you must still meet the notice period requirements above, or the statute of limitations doesn’t even matter.
How Compensation is Calculated
Unlike traditional lawsuits in civil courts, a jury will never hear your case. You are not entitled to file a lawsuit against your employer, even if the employer was indeed careless or negligent (assuming they carried workers’ compensation insurance as required by law).
Instead, your sole option under the law is to file a claim before the Workers’ Compensation Commission for your state. While this may seem straightforward, the process can be quite complicated. In recent years, many valid claims have been denied for seemingly no reason, leaving employees out of work and out of luck. Our workers’ compensation attorneys each have considerable experience resolving these complex work injury cases for their clients. In addition, each year our workers’ compensation attorneys take numerous cases to trial, fighting for justice on behalf of the injured workers and their families.