Obtaining workers’ compensation benefits after suffering an illness or injury on the job can be a very long and often frustrating process. One the ways to protect yourself and have the claim resolved is to seek legal counsel from an attorney experienced with handling workers’ compensation claims.
Once you have reported your injury to your employer, for which, in Illinois, you have 45 days from the date the injury occurred or was discovered, you may be concerned that your claim will be disputed.
Below is a brief description of the guidelines of pursuing a disputed claim as provided by the Illinois Worker’s Compensation Commission.
Burden of proof
In cases that come before the Commission, it is up to you to provide proof that your claim is valid. Your employer does not have to disprove your claim.
This means that you have to be able to prove that your employer was subject to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation or Occupational Diseases Act at the time the injury or illness occurred. In addition, you will also have to provide evidence that an employer-employee relationship existed at that time.
Also, you must prove that the accident occurred as a result of your employment, there was a causal connection between the accident and your injuries, and that you notified your employer within the law’s time limits.
When a claim is disputed, the Commission will conduct a trial overseen by one of its arbitrators. Unless there is an emergency that warrants an expedited hearing, the case will not be resolved until you have attained maximum medical improvement.
The court requires that you obtain medical records, doctors’ depositions, and any other pertinent paperwork to proceed with a trial. Due to these requirements, it can sometimes take a year or more before the hearing is scheduled.
Another, possibly quicker option, for dispute settlement is for the Commission to resolve the matter through a compromise between you and your employer. Agreeing to a settlement contract will let you avoid the risk of getting either no compensation or less than what would be provided in the settlement.
If you have been the victim of a workplace injury or illness, it is important to understand your rights when it comes to filing a workers’ compensation claim. Contact a local Illinois workers’ compensation attorney today and find out what options you have to recoup lost wages and pay those unexpected medical expenses.