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).
While the following are injuries related to employee’s employment, they are not covered under Illinois law:
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.
Employees should include the following information when reporting a work-related injury:
As a reminder, the IWCC oversees all workers’ compensation claims in Illinois. Accordingly, the IWCC is your starting line for filing all claims.
This form can be found on the IWCC’s website at www.iwcc.il.org. 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).
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.
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.