Despite increased safety measures on the job, workplace accidents are still a common occurrence. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, 154,600 employees in the state suffered a work injury during 2012. More than 75,000 of those employees were temporarily or permanently prevented from carrying out their work duties because of the injury, making them eligible for workers’ compensation. Illinois employers are required by law to offer benefits to employees who are disabled in the aftermath of a work-related injury or illness. Workers should know how state law protects their rights. They should also learn about their options in case they are denied workers’ compensation by an irresponsible or unscrupulous employer.
What must Illinois employers do after an employee is injured?
When an employee is injured or becomes ill on the job, the employer must bear all of the following responsibilities:
- Immediate medical care and evaluation of the injury
- Partial or total temporary disability benefits while the employee is unable to work
- Ongoing medical expenses during the process of recovery
- Vocational rehabilitation and retraining as needed
- Permanent disability payments when necessary
- Death benefits paid to relatives in the event of a fatality
Employers normally cover these costs by carrying workers’ compensation insurance. If the employer is unwilling to take out insurance and unable to self-insure, the employee may face an illegal refusal of benefits. When this happens, the injured worker has the right to take action and get proper compensation.
How can an injured employee get benefits after a refusal?
Illinois workers’ compensation law generally forbids employees from suing employers for benefits after a work-place injury. This rule is waived when the employer does not offer workers’ compensation. In such cases, employees are free to sue for damages in civil court. When workers are denied benefits, they can also appeal to the Illinois Injured Workers’ Benefit Fund. This fund is specifically designed to help injured employees whose employers cannot or will not pay sufficient benefits. The IWBF is funded by the substantial fines levied each year on uninsured employers. It has offered thousands of injured workers the financial resources they need to recover.
Injured workers have options
A workplace injury is always distressing. Discovering that your employer is uninsured can make the situation even more difficult. Fortunately, Illinois law protects the interests of workers by offering a number of options for securing benefits. Speak with a workers’ compensation attorney today to find out more about your choices and your rights.