How Is Workers’ Compensation Different in Illinois?
When you are injured at work, your rights are governed by state law. Each state has its own law governing the rights and responsibilities of the parties. And while some things are similar across all states, there are many things that are different. Sometimes, you have the option to file your case in more than one state. Therefore, it is important to pick the state which has a law that is most advantageous to you.
Not All Benefits Are Equal
Illinois has consistently ranked high in terms of benefits awarded to injured workers when compared with states across the nation. This means that Illinois law generally pays more benefits to injured workers than in other states. If you have a case that could be filed in more than one state, you should meet with an attorney in each state to see what benefits you may be entitled to in each state. Whichever is more generous to the injured worker is oftentimes the one you should file in.
For example, if you are hired in Illinois as a truck driver and you are injured while traveling in Wisconsin, you could file the case in Wisconsin or Illinois. In this scenario, filing in Illinois would be more advantageous to you as the potential permanent partial disability benefits awarded would likely be higher in Illinois. Workers' compensation insurance companies pay higher permanent partial disability awards to injured workers in Illinois than in Wisconsin. In Wisconsin, awards are based primarily on what the treating doctor states about your impairment rating.
Workers’ Compensation Factors in Illinois
However, in Illinois, an arbitrator must take into account the following:
Your impairment rating
Occupation of the injured employee
Age of the employee at the time of the injury
Employee’s future earning capacity
Evidence of disability corroborated by the treating medical records
No single enumerated factor shall be the sole determinant of disability. So if a doctor says that operated carpal tunnel syndrome only caused 4% impairment to your hand, in some states you may only be awarded compensation for 4% loss. In Illinois, the Commission could find that you have suffered up to 15% loss of the hand which results in more monetary compensation to the injured worker.
Some states limit the amount of time an insurance company has to pay temporary total disability (TTD) benefits for lost income to an injured worker. Some states will limit the time period to a year or even less. In Illinois, however, TTD benefits are owed by the workers’ compensation insurance company for the entire amount of time the employee is totally incapacitated from working or is on a restriction that his or her employer cannot accommodate until they reach maximum medical improvement. This means that if an injured worker is unable to work and is still seeking ongoing medical treatment for 2, 3 or even 5 years, they are entitled to ongoing TTD benefits in Illinois. This is a huge advantage to injured workers as it ensures that they have a source of income while they work hard to get better medically.
Another difference is where and how the injured worker is able to seek treatment. Some states limit what doctors and for how long an injured worker can seek medical treatment to cure a work-related injury. Some states will require workers to be treated only by doctors or providers that are approved by the employer or insurance company. This puts control of treatment in the hands of providers that sometimes workers do not trust or have their best interests in mind.
In contrast, Illinois gives workers the right to choose who they wish to seek treatment with and when. While there are some limitations, such as only being able to choose 2 separate providers or else having to ensure there is a clear chain of referrals in writing, Illinois law protects the injured workers’ rights to choose who they have treat them and what type of treatment they receive.
Remember: Filing a workers’ compensation claim will not affect your future employment opportunities.
Let Us Fight for You!
There are many other differences in compensation allowed to people injured at work in Illinois as opposed to other states. Therefore, if possible, it is usually better to file in Illinois. Jurisdiction can be proper in Illinois in multiple ways but they are not always easy to determine. So it is important to meet with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who has represented thousands of injured workers and knows the law well. Black & Jones Attorneys at Law has been representing injured workers in the Rockford and northern Illinois area for decades. If you have been injured at work and think you may be able to pursue the case in Illinois, contact us today for a free consultation.