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Illinois Workers' Compensation Laws Explained

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Article written by Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Updated on
November 1, 2019

In this article, we explain Illinois workers' compensation law. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act (820 ILCS 305, et al.) provides relief to employees who are injured in the course of their work. Injured employees can file a claim with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (“IWCC”), which is the organization in charge of overseeing all workers’ compensation claims. Benefits received through a workers’ compensation claim are a portion of the employees’ wages for the period they’re off work due to the injuries. The portion of wages received by the injured employee is typically determined by the extent and permanency of the injury (these variations will be discussed in our next Workers’ Compensation article). 

Injuries covered under Illinois Workers’ Compensation Laws

  • All injuries caused by the employee’s work (whether in whole or in part)
  • Injuries resulting from work-related tasks performed at employer’s request (regardless of whether conduct occurs at work location or not)
  • Pre-existing conditions worsened due to the employee’s work-related duties

Injuries NOT covered under Illinois Workers’ Compensation Laws

While the following are injuries related to employee’s employment, they are not covered under Illinois law:

  • Any injuries brought on employee through their conduct (for example, if an employee is injured on employer property, or during the scope of their work duties, due to a fight the employee started)
  • Any injuries sustained as a result of the employee committing a crime
  • Injuries not resulting from incident while “on the job”
  • Injuries resulting from employee violation of company codes, policies, rules, etc
  • Injuries that occur while driving to or from work
Reporting an Injury for Workers' Compensation in Illinois

Reporting an Injury for Workers' Compensation in Illinois

What is the Deadline to Report an Injury for Workers' Comp in Illinois?

When an employee is injured at work, or during a work-related activity, they should notify the employer as soon as possible. Most employers have an employee specifically for such instances - i.e., supervisor, managers, human resources department. It is best to provide a detailed accounting of the incident. Employees must provide their employer with written notice of the injury within forty-five (45) days of the incident to preserve their claim. If an employee waits to provide notice of an injury to just before, or after, forty-five (days), they run the risk of missing out on any workers’ compensation benefits.

Note that certain exceptions apply to the timeliness of notice to one’s employer. In cases involving exposure of radiation, an employee has ninety (90) days after being exposed, or suspecting that one was exposed, to excessive radiation to report the incident to an employer. Another exception to the timeliness of notice regards job-related diseases. Employees should report job-related diseases as soon as they become aware of the condition.

Information to provide for a Workers' Compensation Claim

Employees should include the following information when reporting a work-related injury:

  • Date of the incident
  • Time of day that the incident occurred
  • Description of events leading up to injury
  • Description of the injury itself
  • Contact information for the injured employee

How to File A Workers’ Compensation Claim in Illinois

As a reminder, the IWCC oversees all workers’ compensation claims in Illinois. Accordingly, the IWCC is your starting line for filing all claims.

Step 1 - File an Application for Adjustment of Claim

This form can be found on the IWCC’s website at An important distinction between filing this form and providing notice to an employer is that this form can be filed at any point up to three (3) years after the date of the injury. Remember that for notice to an employer, notice must be provided within forty-five (45) of the injury.

Once the form is completed and all questions are answered, the employee fills out the Proof of Service, and has his/her signature notarized (most law firms have at least one Notary Public and the same applies for a majority of banks).

Step 2 - Submit your Application for Adjustment of Claim 

The Application must be sent to both the employer and the IWCC. Mail, or otherwise deliver, one (1) copy of the completed Application to the employer. Mail, or otherwise deliver, three (3) copies of the completed Application to the following address:


Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission

100 W. Randolph Street, #8-200

Chicago, IL 60601

The employee should also keep a copy of the completed Application for their own records.

Litigating a Workers' Comp Claim in Illinois

Litigating a Workers’ Compensation Claim

First Status Date - After filing a completed Application for Adjustment of Claim, the IWCC mails a Notice of Hearing to both the employee and the employer. This Notice provides (1) the date of the first status hearing and (2) which arbitrator the claim has been assigned to.

No notices for future status dates are provided in writing. It is up to the employee, or his/her attorney, to check the IWCC website for all future status dates. This can be done by using the IWCC’s “Case Information Screen.”

NOTE: Employee and employer presence is not required at the status date unless one party either (a) asks for a trial or (b) asks the arbitrator assigned to the claim to act towards a resolution. Otherwise, only the parties attorneys need be present.

The IWCC provides status dates for the first three (3) years of a claim. After the claim has been pending for three (3) years, the matter must either go to trial or be dismissed. If this occurs and the employee does not wish to go to trial, he/she must attend the status call before the three (3) year period runs and complete an Arbitration Case Information sheet explaining why the claim needs to remain open and not go to trial.

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Illinois Workers' Compensation Laws Explained

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