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Chicago Workers' Compensation Lawyers

The Chicago workers’ compensation attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC are committed to protecting the rights of injured workers. Our law firm handles work comp cases across Illinois and there is never a fee charged unless we are successful on your behalf. Complete our case intake form here and a worker compensation lawyer will contact you shortly.

If you are injured on the job, it can be devastating, particularly if you need to miss work and are facing a pile of medical bills. It may be difficult to know where to turn and what you should do next. Fortunately, most employers in the U.S. are required to maintain workers’ compensation coverage. Workers’ compensation acts as a type of insurance that provides employees injured on the job with coverage to compensate them for medical care, lost wages, and sometimes lump-sum payments. In exchange, workers give up the right to sue their employers for negligence under tort law.

The purpose of Illinois workers’ compensation law is to ensure that vulnerable workers are protected when they’re injured and to decrease the amount of litigation related to work-place injuries, preserving the resources and time of both employers and their employees. It’s important to remember that when you seek compensation in the form of workers’ compensation benefits, you are not taking on your employer. You are actually requesting the extension of benefits and payments from your employer’s insurance company. In an effort to maximize profits, workers’ compensation insurance companies are notorious for trying to limit their payouts.

To help guide you through a workers’ compensation claim, we’ve created this page to answer some of your most pressing questions and help you prepare and gather the documentation you will need. This page isn’t a replacement for a consultation with an experienced Chicago workers’ compensation attorney, so be sure to consult with one as soon as possible. You can contact Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers for a free initial consultation to explore your options.

On this page, we’ll discuss some of the most common industries involved in workers’ compensation claims; move on to a summary of the federal and state laws governing workers’ compensation; summarize damages that are available in a workers’ compensation claim; detail third-party claims and damages; examine workers covered by unique regulations and laws; and finally, address some of the most frequently asked questions about workers’ compensation lawsuits.

Workers’ Compensation Claims: Most Common Industries

While any person can be injured at work, some professions, such as construction, manufacturing, agricultural, oil and gas, refuse, health care, trucking and logistics, and utilities, are considered to be some of the most dangerous careers. A look at the injury statistics related to each field demonstrates the dangers inherent in each occupation.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 21.4% of all work-related fatalities were related to the construction industry in 2015. The leading causes of construction accident fatalities were falls, being struck by an object, electrocution, and caught-in or -between incidents.

While manufacturing jobs continue to dwindle in the United States, around 12.4 million Americans earn a living working at a factory. Frequent causes of injuries in factory settings include getting limbs caught in machines, repetitive use injuries, forklift accidents, and exposure to toxic substances.

People working on farms and with livestock are considered agricultural workers according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2014, 761,000 people worked in this industry. Primary job risks include exposure to chemicals, injuries with heavy machinery, and overexertion.

Workers in the oil and gas industry continue to experience a heightened risk of injury on the job due to the inherent dangers of the work and industry failure to adhere to safety regulations. Frequent refinery worker injuries may be related to falls, explosions, transportation accidents, toxic exposure, and incidents involving heavy machinery.

Workers in the garbage collection and recycling industries have a fatality rate 10 times that of the average worker. Because they are frequently working with heavy loads and large trucks, workers experience injuries related to lifting, accidents on highways, and machinery.

According to the U.S. BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS, by 2024, more than 2.3 million people are expected to be employed in the healthcare industry. Many people in this field are nurses, nurses’ assistants, and hospital workers. They frequently work with ill patients who must be lifted and assisted, which can be literally back-breaking work.

Almost every product we purchase has spent some time on a truck or in a warehouse. The pressure to deliver goods more efficiently puts added strain on these workers. People in the trucking and logistics industry are exposed to risks involving truck accidents, loading docks, warehousing, forklifts, and rail yards.

In 2013, OSHA collected $300,458 in fines related to safety violations in the utility industry. Workers in this field are at risk of injuries related to falls from utility posts, electrocution, falling debris, and cave-ins in excavated areas.

Illinois Workers Compensation Act: How it Applies to Your Case

The Illinois Workers' Compensation Act (820 ILCS 305) provides relief for employees that suffer work-related injuries or work-related aggravations of injuries or conditions. When this happens, employees can obtain compensation for the expenses and lost wages due to the incident by filing a claim with the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission (IWCC).

The system established by the Illinois legislature does not require that you show that someone or some entity was at fault, or that you were blameless in the matter. However, you are also generally barred from suing your employer in a court of law for damages; rather, you must file a claim with the IWCC.

Generally, you have 3 years to bring a workers' compensation claim in Illinois but there are some restrictions, so consulting an attorney is a good idea. Lawsuits must begin three years after the accident or two years after you last received compensation benefits, whichever is later. However, if your injury becomes repetitive in nature, the statute of limitations may differ, so it is important to meet with an attorney to clarify how much time you have to bring an action.

Damages Available in a Chicago Workers’ Compensation Claim

If you are injured due to the negligence of your employer or co-workers, you are limited to benefits provided under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. The law provides for three primary types of benefits for people injured on the job:

  1. lost time benefits: you can receive two-thirds of your average weekly wage when you are deemed to be temporarily totally disabled (TTD) by a treating physician;
  2. medical expenses: your employer must pay for medical care causally related to your work injury;
  3. lump-sum payment: the law provides for a lump-sum payment to workers who have a permanent disability as a result of their injury. The amount is determined by a set schedule of injuries related to specific body parts and the wages at the time of the injury.

These benefits are statutory in nature and apply regardless of who caused your accident, including yourself. While these benefits appear to be straightforward, there is room for interpretation, meaning that the value assessed for your benefits by an employer may be significantly less than what the law provides for. Having a Chicago workers compensation lawyer on your side can ensure that your benefits are fairly assessed.

Third-Party Claims: When an Injury is Related to Acts of an Entity Other Than Your Employer

When an outside party that is not your direct employer or coworker causes or contributes to your injury, you are entitled to collect workers’ compensation benefits from your employer and pursue the third party for civil damages that are not covered under workers’ compensation. Cases pursued under civil law as opposed to workers’ compensation generally have greater value, as the potential damages far exceed those available under workers’ compensation.

Possible grounds for third-party work injury lawsuits include:

Negligence: Negligence is the basis used for filing a lawsuit against a person or company who fails to use reasonable care, resulting in an injury or death of another person.

Example: A laborer is injured while working on a construction site when a subcontractor’s employee throws debris from the roof. In this situation, the laborer could likely pursue a case against the company of the individual who threw the debris.

Premises Liability: When the owner of a property fails to maintain their premises in a safe manner and a person is injured as a result, they may file a lawsuit against the property owner for their injuries.

Example: While making a delivery to a restaurant, a delivery person falls down a flight of stairs due to improperly installed carpeting. In this situation, the delivery person could likely pursue a case against the restaurant owner and/or the owner of the property.

Product Liability: If you were injured due to a defective product, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the equipment or machine that caused your injury.

Example: While working on a punch press machine, an assembly-line worker injures his hands because the machine does not shut off properly. In this situation, the employee could pursue a case against the manufacturer and/or the company in charge of maintaining the machine.

Wrongful Death: The family of a worker fatally injured due to the conduct of a party aside from the deceased’s employer can file a lawsuit to pursue damages for loss of emotional and financial support.

Example: The family of a construction worker fatally struck by a truck while working on a highway repair project could file a wrongful death lawsuit against the trucking company.

The Illinois Workers' Compensation Act (820 ILCS 305) provides relief for employees that suffer work-related injuries or work-related aggravations of injuries or conditions. When this happens, employees can obtain compensation for the expenses and lost wages due to the incident by filing a claim with the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission (IWCC).

The system established by the Illinois legislature does not require that you show that someone or some entity was at fault, or that you were blameless in the matter. However, you are also generally barred from suing your employer in a court of law for damages; rather, you must file a claim with the IWCC.

Generally, you have 3 years to bring a workers' compensation claim in Illinois but there are some restrictions, so consulting an attorney is a good idea. Lawsuits must begin three years after the accident or two years after you last received compensation benefits, whichever is later. However, if your injury becomes repetitive in nature, the statute of limitations may differ, so it is important to meet with an attorney to clarify how much time you have to bring an action.

Damages Available in a Third-Party Claim Under Illinois Law

Third-party lawsuits may also allow recovery of expenses and intangible damages, such as pain and suffering and disability, that may not be adequately accounted for under workers’ compensation law:

Pain and Suffering: Civil law allows an injured person to recover financial compensation for the pain they experience as a result of their injuries, as well as their medical treatment and rehabilitation.

Lost Wages: An injured worker can recover both past and future lost wages when their injuries prevent them from returning to their position. This applies to situations in which significant injuries render a worker permanently disabled.

Medical Expenses: All medical expenses incurred as a result of a job-related injury or accident are compensable under Illinois law. Examples would include emergency room care, hospitalization, surgical fees, pharmacy expenses, physical therapy, and assistive medical devices.

Disability: Many people become permanently disabled due to incidents that occur while on the job. In these situations, Illinois law allows the worker to receive compensation for their lost wages.

Workers Covered by Unique Laws Outside of Workers’ Compensation

The presumption is that if you are injured on the job in Illinois, you are entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. The situations below are unique because the laws that apply to workers injured in these contexts fall outside of the scope of both workers’ compensation and tort law.

Railroad Workers: The United States government has deemed railroad work to be so dangerous that they created a special law to protect these people. The Federal Employees Liability Act (FELA) allows an injured railroad worker to recover compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering when their injuries are causally related to their work. Read more about FELA cases on our FAQ page.

Maritime Workers: When a person who regularly works on a boat is injured, they can file a lawsuit against their employer under the Jones Act. The act allows a worker to pursue damages for the employer’s negligence and recover compensation for lost wages, pain, and medical expenses. Visit our Jones Act FAQ page for more information.

Toxic Substances: Workers in many industries are regularly exposed to toxic substances that may result in illnesses with an immediate or delayed onset. In the case of workers exposed to asbestos who have developed mesothelioma, trust funds have been established by the asbestos industry to ensure that people can receive compensation, regardless of whether they can determine the manufacturer. Visit our mesothelioma FAQ page to learn more.

When an outside party that is not your direct employer or coworker causes or contributes to your injury, you are entitled to collect workers’ compensation benefits from your employer and pursue the third party for civil damages that are not covered under workers’ compensation. Cases pursued under civil law as opposed to workers’ compensation generally have greater value, as the potential damages far exceed those available under workers’ compensation.

Do I Have a Workers’ Compensation Case in Chicago?

When you have been injured in a workplace accident, you are almost always covered by workers’ compensation. If your employer states otherwise during your claim, they are in direct violation of Illinois work laws. You receive these benefits regardless of the type of work you do, who is at fault for your injuries, or how long you have been on the job. If you are injured on your first day on the job, you still qualify for benefits.

You do not need to prove fault in a worker’s compensation case. In fact, the incident could be completely your fault and you would still be entitled to your full worker’s compensation benefit. To explore your options, feel free to contact Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers for a free consultation.

How Long do I Have to File an Illinois Workers’ Compensation Claim?

Under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, you should notify your employer that you were injured, and your injury arose from your employment, as soon as possible but no later than 45 days. However, you then have 3 years to bring a workers' compensation claim in Illinois. There are some restrictions, so consulting an attorney is a good idea. Specifically, lawsuits must begin three years after the accident or two years after you last received compensation benefits, whichever is later. If your injury becomes repetitive in nature, the statute of limitations may differ, so it is important to meet with an attorney to clarify how much time you have to bring an action. See 820 ILCS 305/6(d).

Can I be Fired for Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Illinois?

No, you cannot be fired for filing a workers’ compensation claim. Workers are protected by the Illinois Worker's Compensation Act from retaliation from employers. If you are fired for filing a claim, you may have grounds for a legal suit against your employer. See 820 ILCS 305 §4h. However, many Illinois employees are at-will workers. This means that companies generally don't need a reason to terminate you and it can be tricky to determine the actual motivation for the firing. If you’re concerned that your employer might retaliate by firing you, it’s a good idea to see an attorney as soon as possible.

What Happens if There are Other Parties Responsible for my Chicago Workplace Accident in Addition to my Employer?

A third-party lawsuit is filed against other parties that may be responsible for accidents that injure a worker. For instance, it could be that a manufacturer of a piece of construction equipment is liable for designing a piece of machinery that is defective. The claim must be filed against a negligent party that is neither your employer nor a fellow employee.

Third party claims are not statutorily limited in the way that workers’ compensation claims are, allowing recovery of expenses and intangible damages, such as pain and suffering and disability, that may not be adequately accounted for under workers’ compensation law. For example, if you are an ironworker initiating a construction injury lawsuit, you may file a legal claim against a sub-contractor that was responsible for maintaining safe conditions on a worksite, or you may sue a manufacturer or engineer who was responsible for maintaining, repairing, or designing faulty equipment that was used by workers on site.

How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Chicago?

Our experienced Chicago workers' compensation attorneys do not charge for our initial consultation, so it is always free to come discuss your case. In addition, we work on a contingency fee, so we will not ask for payment up front. We will only charge a fee once we have made a financial recovery for you. The Illinois Legislature has set attorneys' fees for workers compensation cases at 20% for most situations. If there is a separate case against a third-party, the case is handled separately, and the separate fee agreement will need to be agreed upon. Fees are clearly laid out in the representation agreement signed by all clients and submitted for the approval of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission.

How is an Illinois Workers’ Compensation Settlement Determined?

Many workers that are injured on the job might first just apply for Temporary Total Disability, hoping that eventually they will be able to return to work. However, in some cases the injury is too severe, and a worker may be unable to ever return to work. Once a worker is determined to have a “permanent total disability,” under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, they can qualify for lifetime benefits. Life time benefits are generally two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly wage, subject to state minimums and maximums. The minimum payment is 50% and the maximum is 133.3% of the statewide average weekly wage, subject to possible adjustments for cost-of-living.

Those who are injured at work and are permanently disabled from their injury can receive monthly PTD payments through Worker’s Compensation and possibly also may qualify for Social Security benefits as well. In some cases, a lump-sum settlement may be offered for their injury, which may be enticing but can have pros and cons for the worker.

Any work injury case that involves a permanent disability can be complex and difficult for a worker to negotiate on their own. Having an experienced Illinois Worker’s Compensation attorney at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC on your side can help ensure that you get the maximum benefits to which you are entitled, both through your employer and through Social Security. RIL attorneys can also help you determine whether considering a lump sum settlement is in your best interests.

Contact Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers Now & Ensure That You Get The Benefits You Deserve

Our Chicago workers compensation law firm is committed to maximizing the value of your case. We have experience with all types of workers compensation cases and will do what it takes to secure the most favorable settlement under Illinois law. Contact us now for a free consultation.

For More Information

For more information about , please contact Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC today by calling 888-424-5757. Talk to a lawyer now. Free consultation.

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