Serious work injuries incur a great deal of expense on top of the pain and suffering they cause. Illinois workers’ compensation covers a number of those expenses, including medical costs, vocational rehabilitation, disability benefits, and in extreme cases, death and funeral expenses.
Medical Care Coverage
Medical care received to treat work-related injuries is coverable through workers’ compensation. There are a few rules that apply here, though.
In particular, emergency medical costs can always be covered if they result from a work-related accident. Further treatment related to a work injury can also be covered, but you’re limited to your choice of two doctors plus any chains of referrals stemming from them.
If your employer has a preferred provider network, however, opting out of using a doctor in that network counts as one of your two choices of doctors, effectively limiting you to coverage for one doctor and anyone to whom they might refer you (plus anyone those referrals may refer you to, and so on). Anyone outside that chain of referrals cannot be covered under Illinois law unless they provided emergency treatment or first aid.
In some cases, an injury may leave you unable to return to your normal line of work. Should that occur, Illinois workers’ compensation law requires employers to pick up the costs of vocational rehabilitation and training, including any maintenance costs (room, board, travel, etc.) that may be associated with it.
If vocational rehabilitation is considered to be necessary, you’d be required to comply with the program and make every reasonable effort to gain new employment.
Prolonged disability can be covered by workers’ compensation benefits as well as immediate medical benefits. There are a number of ways in which disability benefits may be paid under Illinois law, including the following.
Employers are responsible for covering any difference in your income resulting from your injury. Temporary and permanent disability benefits are calculated at 2/3 of your average weekly wages for every week after the first three days in which you’re disabled. If you’re considered to be disabled for more than 14 work days, those first three days are covered as well.
Schedule of injuries
Permanent disability benefits are often paid from a schedule of injuries, which require payment of 2/3 of your average weekly wages for a set number of weeks assigned to your injury. For instance, if you lose the use of a thumb, you’d be entitled to 76 weeks of compensation.
If you’re permanently disfigured, you’d be entitled to up to 162 weeks at 60% of your average weekly wages.
Finally, a work accident may result in death, in which case the deceased worker’s loved ones may be entitled to death benefits. These include coverage for funeral expenses and survival benefits amounting to 2/3 of the deceased person’s salary for the last year.
Securing Workers’ Compensation Benefits
At times, it may be difficult to secure benefits from your employer since they may try to minimize how much they have to pay. Having an attorney on your side can improve your odds of getting what you’re owed for your injuries, so if there seems to be any friction against your claim, contact a lawyer as soon as possible.