Don’t Sink Because You Don’t Want to Rock the Boat
One of the most common concerns of injured employees who are considering filing a Workers’ Compensation claim is that they will be terminated for doing so. However, filing a Workers’ Compensation claim is substantially different from filing a civil lawsuit. In addition, the State Legislature of Illinois has passed laws protecting employees from retaliation for filing a Workers’ Compensation claim.
There are several differences between a civil lawsuit and a Workers’ Compensation claim. First, unlike a civil lawsuit, a Workers’ Compensation claim is not filed in State or Federal Court. Instead, an Application for Adjustment of Claim is merely filed with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. This Application is not accusing an employer of being in the wrong. In fact, Workers’ Compensation law in Illinois is a “no-fault” system. This means that neither the potential negligence of the employer nor the employee is taken into account when proceeding with the claim.
The Application for Adjustment of claim is instead an application for benefits that the Illinois State Legislature has determined an employee is entitled to when they are hurt at work. These benefits include; payment of medical bills for services that are deemed to be reasonable and necessary for treating the work-related injury, “Temporary Total Disability” benefits for time missed from work, and potentially, a lump-sum settlement award for any permanent impairment or disability suffered by the employee.
It is important to note that an injured employee’s attorney is almost never dealing with an employer directly. Instead, the attorney speaks with the insurance adjustor for the Workers’ Compensation insurance carrier used by the employer, or another attorney who represents the interests of the insurance company. Indeed, it is mandatory in Illinois that employers carry Workers’ Compensation insurance.
Finally, an employee cannot be fired by an employer for exercising their rights under the Workers’ Compensation Act. If an employee is fired for exercising their rights under the Workers’ Compensation Act, that employee has grounds for a retaliatory discharge case. This case is pursued in circuit court.
It can be a stressful time when a person is injured at work and finds themselves in need of medical treatment and time away from work. The fear of termination for pursuing the benefits that the Illinois State Legislature has determined an injured employee is entitled to should not be an added stress. Contacting an attorney who is experienced in Workers’ Compensation Law is a good idea for obtaining answers to any questions regarding filing a Workers’ Compensation claim.