Workers’ compensation is an insurance program for employees that is established and managed by the state. Employers pay into workers’ compensation on behalf of their employees. If an employee is injured at work, he or she may file a claim and receive benefits while recovering.
However, determining the exact benefits that a particular employee may be entitled to can be a complicated process. Many employees in Illinois are unsure if they even qualify and uncertain about how to file a claim. An experienced Chicago workers’ compensation attorney can help.
With very narrow exceptions, most employers in Illinois are required by state law to carry workers’ compensation insurance for employees.
An injured employee in Illinois is entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits without having to take legal action and without having to prove that an employer – or anyone else – was responsible for his or her accident and injury.
ARE NON-PROFITS REQUIRED TO CARRY WORKERS’ COMP INSURANCE?
But what if your employer is a non-profit corporation? Are non-profits required to carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage for their employees?
Under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act (IWCA), employees in Illinois – except for some farmworkers, federal employees, and the police and firefighters in Chicago – must be covered by workers’ comp. Non-profit corporations must provide workers’ comp coverage to employees.
WHO IS DEFINED AS AN “EMPLOYER” IN ILLINOIS?
Exactly what does the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act provide? Under the IWCA, an employer/employee relationship is required for a workers’ compensation claim. Coverage must be provided even by employers with only one employee. Illinois defines an “employer” as:
the State of Illinois and each town, city, incorporated village, township, county, school district, or municipal corporation
any person, business, a private or public corporation that has any person in service or under a contract for hire
anyone conducting any enterprise or business that does any of the work enumerated by the IWCA
An exception is specifically made in the IWCA which excludes anyone performing services as a real estate broker, a broker-salesman, or as a salesman when such persons are paid by commission only. Anyone in this category will probably not prevail with a workers’ comp claim.
ARE THERE PENALTIES FOR NON-COMPLIANT EMPLOYERS?
Sole proprietors, business partners, corporate officers, and members of limited liability companies in Illinois may exempt themselves from workers’ compensation coverage.
The IWCA imposes penalties on employers who willfully fail to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Employers can be fined up to $500 per day for every day that they are not compliant with the IWCA, and the minimum fine is $10,000.
Since 2006, the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission has collected over $7 million in fines – which means that a lot of employers have not been compliant with the law. If you are not sure whether or not you are covered by workers’ comp, ask your employer. You need to know.
A corporation’s officers can be held personally liable for a corporation’s failure to pay a penalty under the IWCA. Also, if a corporate officer negligently or knowingly failed to obtain workers’ comp insurance, that officer can be found guilty of a Class A misdemeanor or Class 4 felony.
WHAT BENEFITS DOES WORKERS’ COMPENSATION PROVIDE?
An injured employee who is covered by workers’ compensation in this state is entitled to:
Medical care: Injured employees have the right to receive all necessary and reasonable treatment for a job-related injury.
Temporary Disability: If an employee must be away from work temporarily due to a job-related injury, that employee is entitled to temporary disability benefits which partially compensate for lost wages.
Permanent Disability: If an on-the-job injury causes permanent disability, and if the injured employee cannot perform the same work in the future, the amount paid depends on the employee’s physical restrictions, age, and earnings when the injury occurred.
Vocational Rehabilitation: If an injury makes it impossible for an employee to return to the job, workers’ comp may provide financial assistance for vocational rehabilitation.
Survivors’ Benefits: Workers’ compensation in Illinois provides benefits to the surviving family members of an employee who dies as the result of a workplace accident.
WHEN SHOULD YOU SPEAK TO A WORKERS’ COMP LAWYER?
If you are entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits, getting your employer and your employer’s insurance company to act in a timely manner is not always easy. If you are injured at work, seek help at once from a skilled Chicago workers’ compensation law firm.
Workers’ compensation insurance companies and even some employers have been known to use questionable tactics to avoid paying workers’ compensation claims to injured employees. These tactics may include:
- the direct denial of a legitimate injury claim
- discouraging an employee from seeking a second medical opinion
- undervaluing an employee’s lost wages
- pressuring an employee to return to work before he or she has fully recovered
- denying responsibility for non-traumatic injuries such as repetitive stress injuries
HOW WILL A WORKERS’ COMPENSATION LAW FIRM IN ILLINOIS HELP YOU?
A worker’s comp lawyer can guide you through the workers’ comp process and handle your appeal if your first application for benefits is denied. If you are injured at work, report the injury immediately to your employer. Then arrange at once to meet with a workers’ comp lawyer.
An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can complete or review your application for workers’ comp benefits. Your attorney will ensure that there are no mistakes or misunderstandings that could delay your benefits or cause your application to be rejected.
Workers’ compensation lawyers regularly handle the most complicated cases, so your attorney will know what it takes to prove that you are eligible for benefits. If you were injured at work, unless you were intoxicated or engaging in horseplay, you are probably eligible for benefits.
If you sustain a job-related injury, whether your employer is for-profit or non-profit, obtain the advice and legal help that you are very much going to need and contact a top-rated Chicago workers’ compensation attorney as quickly as possible.
A good attorney’s help is your right. In fact, if you have been injured at work and you need to receive workers’ comp benefit payments, contacting a workers’ compensation lawyer is the smartest step you can take.