Fired? Why Should You Keep Your Work Status Notes?
One of the benefits that an injured employee is entitled to under workers’ compensation law in Illinois is Temporary Total Disability (TTD). TTD benefits are equivalent to two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly wage at the time of the accident. The right to TTD benefits arises whenever an employee is taken off of work per a treating physician’s orders, or when a treating physician has placed an employee on light-duty work restrictions and the employer refuses to accommodate these restrictions.
But what happens if the employment relationship has ended? At times, when an employee has been out of work because of an injury for an extended period of time, the employer will terminate that employee. Employees should know that this does not end their entitlement to TTD benefits. As long as a treating physician continues to keep the employee off of work due to the injury or on light duty, the right to TTD benefits continues as well. The reason is that even though the employee no longer has an active job, their ability to work has not changed. The employee still could not obtain other employment because a doctor continues to state that the employee is not fit to work, or only fit to complete specific light duty work.
Therefore, it is very important that an employee continue to have their doctor provide an opinion on the employee’s work status regardless of whether the employee remains employed. Whenever an injured employee visits their doctor for a work-related injury, they should obtain a note describing their current work status. This can be compared to receiving a ticket for clothing dropped off at a dry cleaner. When a person drops off their clothes, they are certain to leave with a ticket saying the clothes belong to them. The work status note has the same importance. It shows the employer that the employee either cannot work at that time, or can only work within certain restrictions. The injured employee should ask their doctor for an opinion on their work status at each visit.
Employers are not always knowledgeable when it comes to the details of workers’ compensation law in Illinois and may think that they can relieve themselves of the duty to pay TTD benefits by terminating the employee. As explained above, this is not the case. Therefore, contacting an attorney who is well-versed in Illinois workers’ compensation law can be useful in ensuring that all TTD benefits are received.