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Chicago Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Temporary total disability benefits in Illinois: a brief look at workers’ rights

In our last post, we looked briefly at a recent report which found that the average time Illinois workers take off when they are injured is greater than in surrounding states, and that this may be due to the way the workers’ compensation system in Illinois is set up. Regardless of the reasons, injured workers do have rights and employers are required to honor these rights.

Temporary total disability benefits are available to Illinois workers who are determined by their doctor to be either temporarily unable to return to do work of any kind, or when an employer is unable to accommodate an employee who has been approved for light-duty work. In either case, temporary total disability benefits amount to two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly wage, though there are maximum and minimum limits. 

Report: injured workers in Illinois take more time off

When an individual is injured on the job, it is critical for that person to receive the medical care he or she needs and to be allowed time to recover. Employers, always concerned about the costs of workplace injury on employee productivity, are keen to get injured workers back into the workplace. The time it takes an injured worker to recover, though, does not always allow for a quick return to work.

According to a recent Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, injured workers in Illinois are actually more likely to take longer periods of time off work than injured workers in surrounding states. The report highlighted that total temporary disability claims in Illinois last an average of 18.4 weeks, whereas the average is 15.7 weeks in Michigan, 11.6 weeks in Iowa, 10.9 weeks in Wisconsin, and 10.5 weeks in Indiana. 

Can I choose a doctor if I am injured at work in Illinois?

Getting injured on the job is something no one expects or feels fully prepared for. Not only are you dealing with your workers' compensation claim, but you want to focus on your health and recovering from your injuries. You want a doctor who you are sure will have your best interests in mind, and one who won't send you back to work before you are physically able and ready to return to work. Does Illinois workers' compensation law allow you to choose your own doctor if you are injured at work?

Fortunately, the answer is yes. Under Illinois workers' compensation law, an injured worker is allowed to choose two doctors to see for treatment related to the injury, and these expenses will be covered by worker's compensation insurance. In addition, any doctor that these two doctors refer you to see do not count as another choice of doctor - they are covered under the same choice of doctor. So, for example, if the doctor you chose refers you to see a physical therapist and a surgeon, these do not count as two more choices you have used.

Failure to provide fall protection a common cause of construction site accidents

Last month, a construction worker died after falling from the third floor of a building in the Wicker Park neighborhood where he had been working on a construction project. The 54-year-old was later taken to the hospital, where he died from injuries. His death was ruled to be an accident, though some cases of construction site falls are not merely accidental. In some cases, construction falls are directly attributable to an employer’s failure to secure the premises to prevent worker falls.

Take, for instance, Belleville-based Barringer Brothers Roofing, which was recently hit with multiple citations by OSHA for failing to provide fall protection for employees at a construction site in Glen Carbon. Earlier this year, OSHA inspected the site and found multiple violations. It is not the first time the company has been cited for failure to provide fall protection—according to OSHA it has happened a total of 19 times. 

Suing a third party for a workplace injury: a look at subrogation

In our last couple posts, we’ve been looking at the exclusive remedy doctrine as it applies to workers’ compensation benefits here in Illinois. We’ve looked at several recognized exceptions to the rule, including intentional conduct; dual capacity; and retaliatory discharge. Here, we wanted to mention an additional possibility for recovery that should be kept in mind by those who are injured on the job.

Employees who have injured on the job should keep in mind that, while they may not sue their employer for damages in court, they may still have the possibility of recovering damages from third parties who are responsible for their injuries. An employee who is injured by a third party may, therefore, receive workers’ compensation benefits and pursue third-party litigation. 

Can I sue my employer for a workplace injury? P.2

Previously, we began exploring the issue of whether an injured employee has the ability to sue their employer for damages. As we pointed out last time, there are several exceptions to the “exclusive remedy” rule here in Illinois. We’ve already looked briefly at the intentional conduct exception.

The dual capacity doctrine, which is another exception, applies in situations where the employer has legal obligations to the employee apart from those attached to the employment relationship. A common example of this would be where the employee is injured by a defective product manufactured by the employer. Another example would be when an employee is injured on land owned by the employer. 

4 Main Steps in the Illinois Workers' Comp Process

Most people don't think about the workers' compensation process until they get injured on the job. Then they find the process to be complicated and frustrating.

Here are the four main steps in the workers' comp process in Illinois.

Can I sue my employer for a workplace injury?

Workers’ compensation benefits are a critical resource for those who are injured on the job. This is especially so because, in most cases, workers’ compensation benefits are the exclusive remedy available to workers who becomes injured on the job. The fundamental agreement or trade-off at the heart of the workers’ compensation system is that employers give up the right to sue their employer in court for damages associated with workplace injuries in exchange for the right to receive benefits through the workers’ compensation system without reference to fault.

Most states recognize that there are certain exceptions to the workers’ compensation exclusive remedy doctrine. Illinois courts have recognized several important exceptions, including intentional conduct, dual capacity, and retaliatory discharge. Proving an exception to the rule is not necessarily an easy matter, though, and it is important to work with an experienced advocate to build a strong case. 

How Much Is My Workers' Compensation Case Worth?

That is probably the most frequently asked question we hear from new Workers' Compensation clients when we first meet with them in our office.  It is a fair and reasonable inquiry.  Probably, 95 times out of 100, the most honest and intelligent answer we can give at that time is, "I don't know, yet." 

Construction Safety Day highlights the real dangers facing workers

Most people might not realize it, but today is actually the 7th annual Construction Safety Day, an initiative sponsored by the Governor's Industrial Safety and Health Advisory Board in Washington state.

While the day is naturally focused on raising awareness and improving construction site safety in Washington state, the significance of its message is nevertheless readily applicable to the entire U.S. In fact, it has even served as an impetus for out-of-state parties to explore the troubling circumstances behind most construction accidents.

Indeed, the construction software firm Viewpoint recently compiled a report in honor of Construction Safety Day using data from both OSHA and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The report reaches some very eye-opening conclusions concerning construction accident injuries, general safety problems and, most significantly, construction site fatalities.

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