Wondering whether you need a workers’ compensation attorney? In the state of Illinois, workers’ compensation is a requirement for most employers. If you are injured on the job or develop an illness as a result of your work, you may be able to file a claim for benefits. However, navigating the workers’ compensation system can be difficult, especially if you don’t have experience. That’s where a workers’ compensation attorney in Chicago can help.
An experienced attorney can guide you through the process and represent your interests before the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. If you’re thinking about hiring a Chicago workers’ compensation attorney, keep reading to learn why you should and how to improve your chances of receiving full compensation.
What Do Workers’ Compensation Attorneys Do?
The workers’ compensation system is an administrative process that’s designed to be easy for injured workers to navigate. If you have a straightforward claim, there’s no need to hire an attorney.
Claiming workers’ compensation, however, can be difficult, especially if the insurance company covering your employer is looking for loopholes to avoid paying out claims. As a result, it is strongly suggested that you hire a workers’ compensation lawyer; they will lead you through the complex procedure, handling all the grunt work for you.
What’s more, a workers’ compensation attorney can also negotiate for settlements on your behalf, ensuring you don’t settle for less depending on the injury or illness suffered on the job, the distress caused, and the financial implications.
When Not to Hire a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
In some cases, you may get by the compensation process without the help of a comp attorney. As a general rule, you can represent yourself if:
- Your employer admits that the illness or injury occurred on the job and accepts responsibility.
- The injury suffered at work is minor, such as an ankle twist, bruise, or cut, requiring little medical care.
- You don’t have a pre-existing condition that affects the same part of your body where you sustained a workplace injury.
- The injury doesn’t have severe financial implications or cause you to miss work for a long period of time.
Nonetheless, it’s still a good idea to consult a workers’ compensation attorney, even in relatively straightforward situations like the ones mentioned above. Most, if not all, workers’ compensation lawyers offer a free consultation regarding the case at hand. They can guide you through the complicated process of seeking compensation, warn you of potential snags, and offer you an honest assessment of the entire case.
Also, by first consulting a lawyer, you’ll be able to determine whether or not you can manage the compensation claim on your own.
When to Hire a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
Millions of workers’ compensation claims are filed each year by workplace injury victims in an attempt to receive compensation for lost wages, medical costs, and mental anguish caused by the injury. Of these staggering figures, only a handful complete the process and receive full compensation.
A workers’ comp lawyer in Chicago will not only guide you through the complex process but also improve your chances of winning a settlement.
Below are some situations where you may need an attorney.
- You have a pre-existing condition: Most employers’ insurance providers capitalize on pre-existing medical conditions to deny employees’ compensation benefits. If your employer knew you were injured on the job, they could claim that your pre-existing condition caused the injury or sickness and not a workplace accident. While a pre-existing condition doesn’t disqualify you from receiving compensation, it can be used as a vindication for the employer to avert responsibility. This is why you may want to hire a workers’ comp lawyer if you have a severe underlying health condition.
- You have been granted a settlement that doesn’t cover all your medical bills and lost wages: If you have received an employer’s settlement offer and you’re sure you aren’t getting a fair deal, don’t side with the workers’ compensation judge. Judges will mostly sign off on any agreement regardless of whether it’s fair or grossly unfair. A workers comp lawyer can negotiate on your behalf and enable you to receive the best settlement possible.
- You face retaliation from your employer: If you notice your employer retaliates against you after filing a worker’s compensation claim, you should consult a workers’ compensation attorney immediately. Workplace retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim can take numerous forms, including harassment, demotions, reduced working hours, discrimination, lower pay, and even termination of employment.
- The injury/illness resulted from a third party’s action: While the worker’s compensation program was created to protect employers from civil lawsuits due to work-related injuries, some circumstances may warrant civil claims. If the injury or illness sustained on the job resulted from a third party’s action, you could still file a civil claim against the third party.
- Your employer denies your injury/illness occurred in the workplace: In some cases, your employer may deny or refuse to acknowledge that your injury occurred in the workplace or on the job. In such cases, you’ll need a skilled workers’ compensation attorney to demonstrate the connection between your injury and your job. Failure to establish this link may result in the denial of lawfully owed compensation benefits.
Other situations where it’s best to hire a workers’ compensation attorney include:
- Your compensation benefits are being delayed or denied.
- You sustained severe long-term or permanent injuries and therefore cannot work for an extended period.
- Your employer or its insurance company claims you can return to work, but you disagree since you’re yet to recover fully.
- Your employer claims you’re not covered by workers’ compensation under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act.
- Your employer has yet to pay for workers’ compensation insurance.
- You clearly don’t understand the worker’s compensation process.
- Your employer of its insurance company is accusing you of worker’s compensation fraud.
- Your employer fails to honor a decision made by the worker’s compensation division or by a judge.
- Your employer or its insurance company requests an independent medical examination (IME) or other evaluations after you’ve been approved for compensation benefits.
- The workplace injury or illness gets severe over time.
- Your injury isn’t quite clear and is hard to quantify medically.
- You are receiving other government benefits such as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
What to Do When You’re Injured at Work
Injuries at work are typically common despite the measures employers put in place to safeguard employees from accidents. Common workplace injuries include broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, head injuries, soft tissue injuries, muscular injuries, scaffolding injuries, chemical exposure, and electrocution injuries.
Suppose you get injured or ill while at work, you should first seek medical attention. Once you receive the necessary medical attention, fill out the incident report form at work and report the accident in writing to your supervisor as soon as possible.
While the workers’ compensation law of Chicago states that you have 45 days from the accident to report it, you want to do this as soon as possible, preferably within three days of the incident. Correct and early reporting of the incident will leave no room for doubt regarding how, when, and where you were injured.
Once you file your report, your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company might contact you to probe your accident and injury. Before contacting the insurance company, speak to an experienced Chicago workers’ compensation lawyer. A professional and skilled insurance company can successfully negotiate on your behalf, ensuring you get the compensation benefits you deserve.
Factors to Consider Before Hiring a Workers’ Comp Attorney
When hiring a workers’ compensation lawyer in Chicago, you should consider several factors, including the level of experience, past results, responsiveness, practice focus, and client testimonials.
In addition to these factors, you might want to ask several questions during your initial consultation. For instance, you can find out whether you’re eligible to file for a worker’s compensation, mistakes to avoid, contingency fees, and the lawyer’s success rate from past representations. A good workers’ comp lawyer should be ready to answer such questions and guarantee successful outcomes.
Let Our Legal Team Help with Your Claim
At Drake & Collopy, P.C., we have devoted our careers to passionately advocating for the rights of those who have been injured due to the negligence of others. We understand the enormous impact an accident and injury can have on one’s life, and we are passionate about seeking justice for our clients.
With more than 50 years of solid experience and over $50 million recovered for Illinois workplace injury victims, you can be sure to trust us for successful claim settlements. After sustaining a devastating injury or illness at work, you should relax and heal rather than fight with your employer or their insurance company.
Our team of seasoned personal injury lawyers will fight to get you the rightful compensation after suffering a distressing injury.
Contact us today to discuss our claims and how our team of expert legal minds can help you get the compensation you deserve.