Workplace disasters—such as fires, chemical spills, weather-related disasters, or accidents—are terrible for both employers and employees. Employers have the expenses of lost business and cleanup, and employees may be severely injured. These injuries could be temporary, or they could result in lifelong disability.
Recovering from a workplace disaster can be a long process for employees, but knowing what you’re entitled to can help you along the way. Here, we’ll go over a few of the items you’ll need to consider when recovering from a disaster in your place of employment.
Some injuries are obviously severe—third degree burns, broken bones, lacerations, and so forth. Some may not manifest right away, such as neck injuries, spinal trauma, or certain types of head trauma. Whether or not you feel like you have been severely injured, you should seek medical help as promptly as possible.
Emergency medical care is generally covered by workers’ compensation, even if it’s outside your employer’s network of preferred providers. Usually, workers’ comp will cover medical expenses for two doctors of your choice plus direct referrals they might give you, but if the care was received before the injury was reported or if it was an emergency, then it should be covered regardless.
If your employer has a preferred provider network, then opting out of it will count against your two choices of doctors, so when receiving treatments after reporting the accident, you need to be sure you choose your doctor carefully.
File a Report
In many cases, your injuries will be obvious, and it is the employer’s duty to file a worker’s compensation claim with their insurance company. However, if your injuries are not immediately apparent, you will need to let your employer know as soon as you find out. The longer you wait, the more likely it will be that your employer will try to downplay the severity of your injuries.
If you have already received medical treatment-such as if your injury required emergency care-then it still won’t hurt to make sure a report has been made and that your claim has been filed.
Even if the disaster did not result from your employer’s negligence, they still have the responsibility to cover the costs of your injury. They are required by law to provide that to you. Workers’ compensation benefits can cover the following expenses:
- Medical expenses, including emergency care and long-term treatments
- Work differential in instances where you find yourself unable to perform your normal job
- Disability, whether it’s temporary, permanent, partial, or total
Note that under Illinois law, you cannot sue your employer for your injuries. On the upside, you don’t need to prove negligence to recover workers’ compensation benefits.
Even though your employer technically has to cover your medical costs and loss of income from a workplace disaster, you may still need legal help. Employers and their insurance providers may try to minimize your injuries to reduce the amount they have to pay. Skilled workers’ compensation lawyers like us at Hart & David can negotiate on your behalf and help you recover what your employer owes you. When in doubt, contact your lawyer.