Experiencing a serious injury at work can be both stressful and devastating. Concerns, such as paying for medical costs and missing time from work, surface. At Cervantes & Associates, we have considerable experience protecting injured workers' rights. We have handled many workers' compensation claims and obtained successful outcomes for our clients. Our attorneys also assist our clients receive Social Security disability benefits. For a discussion on obtaining these benefits, see the Social Security Disability Insurance page.
If you have been injured while at work, you must take the following important steps:
- Both Illinois and Missouri require that injured employees notify their employers as soon as possible to report the injury. In Illinois, employees must notify their employers within 45 days of suffering the injury, or they risk losing the right to receive workers' compensation benefits. In Missouri, employees must notify their employers within 30 days of the injury occurring.
- Employees in Illinois and Missouri must file workers' compensation claims within a certain period of time. In Illinois, employees must file a claim with The Illinois Workers' Compensation Coalition (IWCC) within three years of the injury or within two years of the last payment of compensation, whichever is later. In Missouri, employees must file a claim with Missouri's Division of Workers' Compensation (Division) within two years from the injury date or from the date of the last payment made by the employer or the employer's workers' compensation insurance carrier. However, employees may receive an extension if the employer or insurer does not file the First Report of Injury with the Division in a timely manner.
- Seeking medical attention right away for treatment of the injury is critical. It is also important to tell your physician exactly how you sustained the injury.
Under Illinois's workers' compensation laws, employers must pay for medical care that is reasonable to compensate the employee for pain or effects he or she has suffered from the injury, such as emergency care, hospital care, medication, and physical therapy. Similarly, in Missouri, employees receive medical treatment that will cure the injury. Additionally, in general, both Illinois and Missouri law make employers responsible for paying the medical bills, unless there is some issue or dispute regarding medical expenses.
Illinois and Missouri both provide injured employees with a variety of other potential benefits. For instance, both states offer employees Temporary Total Disability ("TTD") benefits, which are the lost wages injured employees may recover if they are temporarily unable to return to work. In both states, employees are only eligible to receive TTD benefits if they have missed more than three regularly scheduled workdays.
To see Illinois' handbook on workers' compensation, please click on the following link: http://www.iwcc.il.gov/handbook020106.pdf
For Missouri's Frequently Asked Questions page on workers' compensation for employees, please click on this link: http://www.dolir.mo.gov/wc/faq_employees.htm#faq4
Seek Experienced Legal Representation
Although you are not required to have attorneys represent you in workers' compensation cases, attorneys can ensure that your claim is filed properly, appear at hearings on your behalf, and gather the necessary evidence. An experienced attorney can also uncover other potential avenues for recovery. For example, a third party may be partially or entirely responsible for your injury, in which case you can file a lawsuit against that party directly. Additionally, in Missouri and Illinois, if your employer fails to carry workers' compensation insurance, and you were injured at work due to your employer's negligence, you may be able to sue the employer for damages.