BY: CHARLES N. THERMAN, ESQ. (Lawyer)
When you suffer an injury that takes place at your workplace or during the scope of your employment, you are eligible for workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation is a state controlled and mandated employer insurance program that provides compensation to employees based on Illinois state laws. Illinois law generally states that regardless of who was at fault, an employee who has suffered a work-related injury has to be provided with some type of compensation.
Through my dedicated experience as an injury and workers’ compensation attorney, I have compiled a list of the most important actions you should immediately take after you have been injured at work, in order to ensure that you are properly compensated:
1) Seek Immediate Medical Attention
If you are even in minor pain you should seek emergency medical care as soon as possible to be sure that your pain is documented. Do not try “to tough it out.” The longer you wait to receive treatment for your injuries, the more likely and possible it is that your employer or your employer’s insurance company will try to not pay for your injuries by blaming them on something else. If you were not taken to the hospital from the scene of the accident and are experiencing any pain whatsoever, get checked by your doctor or visit the nearest hospital emergency room. This helps connect your injuries to the accident.
2) Notify your Employer
It is critical to give your employer verbal or written notice of your injury within 45 days. Your employer has a legal right to know about your injury. If you do not provide notice to your employer or delay too long in reporting your injury, you may lose your rights to workers’ compensation.
Although verbal notice is allowed, you should also provide your employer with written notice and keep a copy of this written notice. This will prevent the possibility that your employer will attempt to deny that you gave the required notice. Your notice should be given to someone in a position of authority, such as your immediate supervisor or personnel director.
3) If you are Physically able, Gather as Much Information and Photos as Possible
You should collect any documents, witness names and contact information related to your accident. If you are able to, take photos of where and how the accident occurred. This is evidence that is critical, should your employer deny that you did suffer the accident. In addition, keep copies of all communication with your employer, employer’s insurance company, or medical personnel regarding your work injury.
4) Immediately Contact a Lawyer Before Speaking with any Insurance Companies
Speak to an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer. Hire someone who dedicates his or her practice to representing injured workers and will fight the insurance companies to ensure that you receive the maximum compensation you deserve.
It is critical to remember that insurance companies do not have your best interests in mind. They may use what you tell them against you or try to settle your case for a lot less than you deserve. Never speak with any insurance company involved in your case or sign any papers from them prior to speaking with a competent and experienced workers’ compensation lawyer.
5) Communicate with your Lawyer
From the beginning, tell your lawyer the complete story. After that, keep your lawyer up to date on any changes in your case, including your health. If your lawyer isn’t informed, your case could suffer. Good workers’ compensation attorneys will listen and do everything they can to get you the benefits you deserve.