In Illinois, you are entitled to compensation for any work injuries you sustain, regardless of fault and with very few exceptions. It’s your employer’s duty to pay workers’ compensation benefits, but in some cases, they may refuse to do so. While there are instances where they are within their rights to deny benefits, refusal to pay workers’ comp is generally illegal.
In this article, we’ll discuss some of the reasons why an employer might refuse to pay workers’ compensation and what can happen as a result.
Reasons Workers’ Comp Claims Are Denied
There are a few reasons an employer might deny workers’ comp benefits to an injured employee. These reasons range from technically legal to outright unlawful.
Failure to Meet Filing Requirements
First, if you have failed to meet the filing requirements for your work injury, they have a sound basis to deny your claim. For example, if you don’t report your injury in a timely manner or are late in filing the needed paperwork, there’s usually not much you can do if they deny benefits.
Dispute Over the Injury
Aside from the filing requirements, your employer may dispute whether your injury even qualifies for coverage. If they can demonstrate that it wasn’t related to work or not serious enough to warrant time off work, they could minimize or even outright invalidate your claim.
In many cases, denial of workers’ compensation comes down to a misguided attempt to minimize costs. When your employer files a workers’ compensation claim with their insurance company, their premiums may go up, so they might refuse to pay in order to prevent that from happening. In cases where you have a qualifying work injury, this is illegal.
Employer Responsibilities When Work Injuries Occur
With very few exceptions, employers in the state of Illinois are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance and pay for work-related injuries. If they fail to pay for your work injury—including medical expenses, disability benefits, and lost time from work—they may be subject to various penalties. These include:
- Fines worth up to 50% of what you are owed in workers’ comp benefits.
- Up to another $10,000 for denial of Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefits (when applicable).
- Attorney’s fees.
Whether an employer has been negligent in providing workers’ compensation benefits is typically decided by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC), which has jurisdiction over workers’ comp claims and disputes in the state.
What to Do If Your Employer Refuses to Pay Workers’ Comp
If your employer refuses to pay workers’ compensation benefits, the first thing you should do is contact an attorney. A competent workers’ compensation lawyer can walk you through the process of taking your claim to the IWCC for a hearing.
Often, these disputes are resolved before a hearing even occurs, but even then an attorney is vital to the process.
If you need TTD benefits or if they have been cut off, you might be able to request an emergency hearing, in which your employer will have to take quick action or forfeit certain rights at the hearing. Again, an attorney will help you navigate this process as effectively as possible.
If you have been injured in a work-related accident and are facing resistance from your employer in securing benefits, contact our attorneys today to get the compensation you deserve.