How to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Chicago

If you or your loved one has suffered a work-related injury in Illinois, you’ll need to know how to file a workers’ compensation claim in Chicago. After sustaining a workplace injury, you should formally notify your employer of the injury to begin the workers’ compensation claims process, seek medical attention immediately to provide important proof for your claim, and meet the applicable deadlines. Familiarity with the Illinois workers’ compensation laws and the appropriate process of filing a claim is essential to receiving your benefits, which have an impact on your financial security.

Injured Man With Bandage Hand Filling Insurance Claim Form. How to file a workers' compensation claim in Chicago.

Get legal guidance and assistance with your workers’ compensation claim in Chicago by contacting Ankin Law at 312-600-0000.

Workers’ Compensation in Chicago

Before learning how to file for workers comp benefits, it’s essential to know the basics of the Chicago workers’ compensation system. Generally, employers in Chicago are required to acquire workers’ compensation insurance to cover their employees. An employee who suffers an injury or illness arising in the course of employment is entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits.

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC) oversees claims made in Chicago and the rest of Illinois. Employees can also file an appeal with the Commission. Employers can deny an employee’s work injury claim, making it necessary for the employee to bring an appeal.

What Are the Benefits Available to Injured Workers?

There’s a variety of benefits available through workers’ compensation claims in Chicago. The benefits you receive depend on the type and severity of your injuries. You should receive coverage for your medical expenses. Other categories of benefits include:

  • Temporary partial disability: These benefits are awarded when an employee is working light duty and earning less while recovering from a work-related injury
  • Temporary total disability: These benefits are awarded if a worker is off work while recovering from the injury
  • Vocational rehabilitation: These benefits are provided to an employee taking part in an approved vocational rehabilitation program to help the employee return to work or seek suitable employment
  • Permanent partial disability: These benefits are for employees who sustain a permanent disability but can work
  • Permanent total disability: These are for employees whose permanent disability renders them unable to work
  • Death benefits: If work injuries result in death, the surviving family members may be eligible for workers’ compensation death benefits

Steps to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim

Workers’ compensation isn’t automatic, even though injured Chicago workers are entitled to it. You must correctly file a workers’ compensation claim to start receiving benefits. It’s crucial to know how to file a workers’ compensation claim in Chicago to receive the right types and amounts of compensation.

Filing a workers’ comp claim in Chicago is a multistep process. While you can choose to pursue a claim on your own, it helps to seek the assistance of an experienced Illinois workers’ compensation lawyer. Your lawyer will assist you at every step of the process.

Below are the steps required to file a workers’ compensation claim in Chicago.

Notify Your Employer

Your first step should be to report your work-related injury to your employer as soon as possible to start the claims process. The longer you wait to notify your employer, the longer it will take for workers’ compensation benefits to begin. Illinois law gives injured workers up to 45 days from the date of their injury to inform their employer of the injury.

There are a few exceptions to this 45-day rule. For example, the time limit for reporting injuries resulting from radiological exposure is 90 days. For cumulative trauma injuries or other slow-developing illnesses or injuries, you should notify your employer as soon as you discover the condition.

Get Medical Treatment

It’s essential to seek medical treatment as soon as you’re aware you’ve suffered a work injury. Prompt treatment protects your health and ensures your injuries and their effects are documented, strengthening your claim. Illinois allows you to choose your own doctor to treat you. Injured employees can make two choices of doctors for their treatment.

Ensure Your Claim Is Filed on Time

But how long do employees have to file a workers’ comp claim in Illinois? Besides having to notify an employer of a workplace injury within 45 days, injured workers must file an Application for Adjustment of Claim within three years of the date of the injury or discovery of a disability for most injuries.

There are some exceptions for occupational diseases. In 2019, changes were made to remove the 25-year statute of repose that prohibited employees diagnosed with latent injuries resulting from exposure to toxic substances in their workplaces, like radiation, asbestos, and beryllium, from pursuing their claims after 25 or more years after their last exposure. Chicago workers’ compensation attorneys are best positioned to determine if an exception applies to your case.

Filing a workers’ compensation claim long before the deadline puts you in the best position to maximize your compensation.

Check Claim Status

You can check the status of your workers’ compensation claim on IWCC’s official website.

What to Expect After Filing a Claim

Once you’ve reported a workplace injury to your employer, your employer is obligated to provide you with the necessary first aid or medical services and inform the workers’ compensation insurance provider to start the claims process. If your injury causes you to miss more than three workdays, your employer will have 14 days to accept or deny your claim or give you a written explanation of what’s needed for payments to start.

If your employer accepts your claim, you should begin getting temporary disability benefits. If your claim is denied, the employer should provide a written explanation of the denial.

Your employer will have 30 days from when you provided notification of your injury to file an accident report with the IWCC. The report notifies the IWCC of a workplace accident. However, if you file a claim with the IWCC, the Commission will assign a case number and arbitrator to your claim. You’ll be notified when your case is up for reexamination in a status call. Your case will come up for a status call every three months, during which either party can request a trial rather than continue settlement negotiations.

What Are the Common Mistakes to Avoid When Filing a Claim?

Aside from having a workers’ compensation claim checklist of what to do, it’s equally important to know what not to do when filing a workers’ compensation claim. Many injured Chicago workers make mistakes that compromise their claims. Here are some common mistakes you should avoid when filing a claim:

  • Failing to report your injury promptly: Injured workers may delay reporting on-the-job injuries and filling out the required paperwork for various reasons, such as embarrassment, underestimating the injury, or fear of retaliation. When you fail to report a job-related injury or illness within 45 days, the workers’ compensation insurer could assume your injury wasn’t serious, or you weren’t even injured. You could be disqualified from receiving benefits.
  • Giving inconsistent or inaccurate details: Inconsistencies in statements regarding a workplace injury and signs of exaggeration could cause your employer to doubt your claim. Statements that change or contradict previous accounts and intentionally providing inaccurate or incomplete information could lead to a denial of benefits, even if your workers’ compensation case would’ve otherwise been credible.
  • Not seeking timely medical attention: Failing to get prompt medical care after a workplace injury can jeopardize your workers’ compensation claim. The insurance company could use that to argue that you weren’t seriously injured or the injury wasn’t work-related.
  • Failing to see the doctor recommended by the insurance company: Your employer or its insurer could ask you to attend an examination by a specific medical provider. You could be denied benefits if you miss this appointment.
  • Returning to work too soon: Injured workers may want to return to work quickly because they feel obliged to do so or fear losing their jobs. However, resuming work prematurely and performing strenuous tasks before your doctor clears you to do so can cost you workers’ compensation benefits in addition to worsening your injuries.
  • Accepting an initial settlement offer: Victims of work-related injuries without legal representation often accept initial settlement offers that are considerably less than the losses suffered. These settlement agreements can include contractual language that prevents the workers from bringing a claim for the same injury if it worsens. Consequently, the workers may be left with a large financial burden if the settlement doesn’t cover all their long-term recovery costs.

An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you handle your claim efficiently and avoid these and other mistakes that could jeopardize or delay your claim. The attorneys at Ankin Law can assist you with all aspects of your workers’ compensation claim in Chicago. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Chicago personal injury and workers’ compensation attorney Howard Ankin has a passion for justice and a relentless commitment to defending injured victims throughout the Chicagoland area. With decades of experience achieving justice on behalf of the people of Chicago, Howard has earned a reputation as a proven leader in and out of the courtroom. Respected by peers and clients alike, Howard’s multifaceted approach to the law and empathetic nature have secured him a spot as an influential figure in the Illinois legal system.

Years of Experience: More than 30 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: Illinois State Bar Association, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, U.S. District Court, Central District of Illinois
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