If you’ve been injured at work, there are going to be a lot questions you have regarding your rights and what to do to protect those rights.
- Should I “sue” my employer?
- Do I get paid? How much?
- My employer/the insurance company says I had a pre-existing condition, what do I do now?
There are going to be a lot more questions than these three, and there are nuances in every claim, but these are some of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to be injured while working at your job.
So, should you “sue” your employer?
When you are injured at work, you don’t “sue” your employer like you would see on television. A workers’ compensation claim is not a typical lawsuit and is not you suing your employer in court. When you are injured at work, you have the right to certain benefits if you sustained an accident that arose out of, and in the course of your employment. In that situation, you file an Application for Adjustment of Claim, which places your employer on notice that you wish to evoke your rights under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. However, this does not mean the process is easy and non-adversarial. When you are injured at work, your employer may have defenses to your claim for benefits, and in several instances disputes arise over your benefits. That is why even though you are not technically “suing” your employer, you should seek a lawyer to protect your rights under the Act.
Do you get paid? How much?
In Illinois, if you sustain a compensable work injury, you may be entitled to temporary total disability benefits (amongst other potential benefits). You are entitled to these benefits after you sustain an injury, if you medical doctor opines you cannot return to your pre-injury job for a temporary amount of time.
If you are entitled to these benefits, the amount of money you are entitled to is 66 2/3rds of your average weekly wage. As I indicated above, disputes may arise regarding your rights, and frequently, disputes arise as to the average weekly wage of an employee. Typically, your average weekly wage is calculated by the amount of money you earned in the year proceeding your accident date. Your average weekly wage may include overtime wages, if those wages were earned as a result of mandatory overtime, but may not include wages earned for voluntary overtime. Your benefits may also be determined by whether you have any dependents, the number of weeks you worked, whether you are a part-time or full-time employee, and can also be impacted by State Minimum or Maximum Rates depending on how much you earn in your job.
For example, if you earned $52,000.00 in the year before your accident, and worked 52 weeks, you would have an average weekly wage of $1,000.00, and be entitled to weekly benefits for temporary total disability of $666.67. What happens if you have a pre-existing medical condition? – If you are injured at work, and injure a body part you injured or had treatment to in the past, your workers’ compensation claim may not necessarily be over. However, oftentimes an employer will inform you that your workers’ compensation claim is denied because your injury pre-existed your work accident.
My employer/the insurance company says I had a pre-existing condition, what do I do now?
In Illinois, a pre-existing condition does not act as an outright bar to compensability. If a work accident aggravates, accelerates, or exacerbates your pre-existing condition, you can still have a compensable claim under the Act. Several examples of an “aggravation claim,” include situations where an injury is worsened by a work accident, either because of a structural change to an existing injury/body part, or because a non-symptomatic (often called asymptomatic) condition becomes symptomatic as a result of a work accident. In addition, if an accident accelerates the need for treatment, or the degeneration of a condition, and this can also be a compensable injury under the Act.
If you have had an injury while at work, please contact our skilled workers’ compensation attorneys at Urban & Burt, Ltd.