What to Do After an Accident at Work

Knowing what to do after an accident at work increases the chances of a successful workers’ compensation claim. Taking appropriate steps after a workplace accident in Chicago, Illinois, allows you to document the incident and compile adequate evidence to build a strong case. It also protects your health. These steps include reporting the incident to your employer, documenting the incident, getting medical assistance, and ensuring reports are submitted to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC).

Injured woman with arm sling signing a document. What to Do After an Accident at Work.

Experienced workers’ compensation lawyers are conversant with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act and have successfully represented clients with workplace injuries. Your lawyers will handle all communications and correspondence with the workers’ comp insurer and compile medical evidence to prove your claim. They will negotiate a reasonable settlement on your behalf and argue your case at the workers’ comp hearing if necessary.

Call Ankin Law at 312-600-0000 for legal help if you have a work-related injury or illness. Initial consultations are free.

Steps to Take After a Workplace Accident

It is essential to have a workers’ compensation claim checklist when pursuing benefits in Illinois. The checklist will contain the right steps to take after a workplace accident and other important information to help you navigate the compensation process efficiently. The most crucial steps after an accident at work include:

Report the Injury to Your Employer

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act requires workers injured on the job to report an accident at work within 45 days from the date of the accident or injury. You should, however, notify the employer soon after the injury to start the claims process early.

The Act allows you to report the injury to the employer orally or in writing. Submitting a written injury report is advisable. A copy of the report will prove that you informed the employer of your injury.

The report should include your name, contact details, and the accident’s date, time, and location. It should also include details of the injuries suffered and contact information of any eyewitnesses.

Document the Incident

You must document the incident immediately after the accident to ensure you have enough evidence to prove your claim. Start by noting down the date, time, and location of the accident. Write down a brief account of the accident, types of injuries sustained, and details of witnesses.

Take pictures of the accident scene and your injuries. Ensure the pictures capture any factors that may have caused the accident, including fall hazards, faulty equipment or machinery, and poorly lit spaces.

Get Medical Help

If you are severely injured, seek emergency medical attention. If you are not too injured, you can book an appointment with a doctor soon after the workplace incident.

In Illinois, you can choose up to two physicians you prefer, provided they are part of your employer’s Preferred Provider Program (PPP). You can choose up to two physicians you want if your employer lacks an established PPP.

Ensure Your Employer Has Submitted a Workers’ Comp Report

Illinois law requires employers to submit a workers’ comp report to the IWCC after getting notified of a work-related injury or sickness. The report will constitute your personal information, an account of the accident, injuries sustained, and treatment you have received and will continue to receive.

Confirm if your employer has submitted your report to the commission. If so, request a copy and store it in a safe place. You can also follow up with the commission to get an update on your claim’s progress.

When to Hire a Workers’ Compensation Attorney

The most appropriate time to hire a workers’ comp attorney is right after suffering a job-related injury or illness. A skilled attorney will guide you through the compensation process, help you deal with setbacks that might arise along the way, and push for the highest possible compensation.

Generally, the involvement of a skilled workers’ compensation lawyer is necessary in the following circumstances:

Your Workers’ Compensation Claim Is Denied

Most workers’ compensation claims get denied on the first try. Employers and workers’ compensation insurance companies often deny eligible claims, expecting that employees will not appeal Many eligible workers are disappointed and fail to appeal when their claims get denied on the first attempt.

Having a workers’ comp attorney on your side reduces the chances of your claim getting denied. The reason is that the attorney completes and files all the necessary paperwork correctly. The attorney also submits compelling evidence to prove you have a valid ground to receive workers’ comp benefits.

An experienced attorney will not hesitate to appeal a denial, especially if the insurer fails to provide a justifiable reason. As such, employers and their workers’ comp insurers are less likely to use claim denial to pressure you into giving up on your right to compensation when you have an attorney in your corner.

You Are Struggling to Get the Necessary Medical Treatment

Workers’ comp insurers usually take unnecessarily long to approve medical procedures, like surgeries. They might even deny such procedures altogether. An attorney can follow up with the insurer and pressure them into approving the required medical treatment on time.

You Want to Negotiate With the Workers’ Comp Insurer

Workers’ comp insurers make profits by taking premiums and paying as few claims as possible. So, expect the insurer to try to devalue or deny your claim. The insurer will have a team of seasoned attorneys experienced in devaluing claims and persuading claimants to accept low settlement offers. A lawyer who is equally an expert in negotiating and settling workers’ comp claims is your best shot at recovering a settlement that covers the full scope of your damages.

You Have an Upcoming Workers’ Comp Hearing

The insurer may refuse to settle or be ready to pay much lower than your claim’s actual value. In such instances, a workers’ comp hearing will be necessary. A lawyer conversant with the workers’ comp system and the rights of injured employees will aggressively represent you at the hearing to better your chances of getting a favorable verdict.

Common Challenges for Injured Workers in Illinois

One of the most common challenges injured workers face in Illinois is not knowing when to return to work. Employers may pressure them to return to work even before they recover fully from their injuries.

Injured workers also have little or no understanding of the rights entitled to them under Illinois workers’ comp laws. So, it becomes hard for them to recognize when employers or insurers violate their rights.

Rehabilitation and Returning to Work

You may be eligible for rehabilitation benefits if your injuries affect your ability to work. An effective rehabilitation program focuses on creating a conducive work environment for an injured employee to stay at the workplace, continue working, and retain his or her most important work skills.

The program incorporates temporary adjustments or restrictions on an injured worker’s everyday job tasks. It then removes those adjustments or restrictions once the worker is ready to resume full duties. A rehabilitation program can equip you with new skills to get a new job elsewhere if you cannot return to your pre-injury job.

Do not return to work just because your employer or workers’ compensation insurer has asked you to do so. The decision to return to work should depend on your physical condition and the perspective of your treating doctor.

Your Rights as an Injured Employee

Injured workers have several rights that are upheld by Illinois Laws.

Right to Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Under Illinois laws, you are entitled to financial compensation if you sustained work-related injuries. The state’s workers’ compensation offers four types of benefits. The type and severity of your injuries determine the type and amount of benefits you will receive.

Right to Medical Treatment

An injured employee has the right to seek medical attention. You can visit an emergency room (ER) if your injuries need urgent medical care. Otherwise, set up an appointment with your preferred doctor in your employer’s PPP. You have the right to select a different doctor in or out of your employer’s PPP if you want to get a second opinion on the extent of your injuries and treatment progress.

Right to Appeal Denied or Inadequate Workers’ Compensation

Illinois workers’ comp laws allow you to appeal a denied claim and provide compelling evidence to support your appeal. They also allow you to appeal any offer you feel is insufficient to cover your medical costs, lost wages, and other expenses. A workers’ comp attorney can help you navigate the appeal process and get the denial decision overturned or the compensation amount increased.

Right to Retain a Lawyer

You stand a better chance of receiving sufficient workers’ compensation with a lawyer on your side than when you are handling the claim yourself. Fortunately, you have a right to hire a lawyer after sustaining an injury at work.

Right to Pursue Additional Compensation from Third Parties

You cannot sue your employer in a civil court if he or she has workers’ compensation insurance. You can, however, maximize your compensation by suing any third party that may have contributed to the accident that caused your injuries.

Wondering what to do after an accident at work? Contact us at 312-600-0000 for a free consultation. Our workers’ comp attorneys will guide you through the process and secure for you the highest possible compensation. 

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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