What is the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission?

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission is a state agency that operates the state court system for workers’ compensation cases.  A case is first tried by an Arbitrator.  The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission has multiple locations throughout the state.  A case is not officially filed until an Application For Adjustment Of Claim has been filed with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission in Chicago.

How long do I have to file my workers’ compensation claim with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission in Chicago?

Under Illinois law, an employee has three years from the date of the injury, or knowledge of the injury, or two years from the date of last payment of benefits within which to file a claim under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act.  If the claim is not filed within that time, the worker’s rights can be forever barred and the worker will receive nothing.

Can I file a workers’ compensation claim for benefits even if I do not live in the state of Illinois?

Yes.  Under certain circumstances, an injured worker does not need to live in Illinois to receive benefits under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act.  If the injury took place in the state of Illinois, if the principle place of employment is in the state of Illinois, or if the contract for hire was in Illinois, the claim can be filed with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission and the Commission will have jurisdiction.

If I injured the same part of my body previously, can I still file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits if I am reinjured?

Yes.  Under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, an employer or its workers’ compensation carrier is entitled to a credit for any previous settlement for an injury to an injured worker’s extremity.  For example, if a previous settlement was received for 10% disability of the injured worker’s arm, the employer would be entitled to a credit for 10% permanent partial disability on any new award that was entered by the Arbitrator.  Keep in mind these credits apply only to extremity (arms, legs, hands, feet).  They do not apply to spine injury claims or injuries to the person as a whole.

In addition, aggravations of pre-existing conditions are also covered under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act.  If an injured worker aggravates or accelerates a pre-existing condition due to the nature of the work or the work injury, they can receive full compensation for the aggravation of a pre-existing condition.

If I have a serious injury but the workers’ compensation carrier is paying all of my benefits, should I still consult with an attorney?

Yes.  The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act specifically contains a provision that indicates that the employer’s payment of workers’ compensation benefits shall not be construed as an admission of liability.  This means that the employer or its workers’ compensation carrier can stop paying benefits at any time and deny the claim even though the injured worker is under the impression that everything has been accepted and that all benefits will be paid. Unfortunately, this gives injured workers a false sense of security when they have a serious injury and do not want to rock the boat and have their benefits interfered with by hiring an attorney.

I have never charged any attorney’s fees for simply discussing issues with an individual over the telephone about their workers’ compensation claim.  There are many traps and pitfalls in workers’ compensation cases that can seriously impact an individual’s rights to receive benefits, including medical treatment.  I have seen many injured workers who have had the rug pulled out from under them by the workers’ compensation carrier just when the injured worker thought that everything was fine and that their benefits would be paid without any problem.

In serious injury claims which will result in the possibility of future medical expenses, it is always wise to consult with an attorney to at least get an opinion on what might happen if the workers’ compensation carrier suddenly decides to dispute liability in your case.

What about Social Security Disability?

  • If you are disabled and unable to work for a period of 12 months, you may be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits.
  • You can receive Social Security Disability at the same time you are receiving your weekly workers’ compensation benefits.
  • If you are approved for Social Security Disability, you are not necessarily permanently and totally disabled under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation laws.  The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act is a separate law and the burden of proof is much different than you have in a Social Security Disability claim.  In addition, an attorney will be representing the workers’ compensation carrier or employer in your pending workers’ compensation claim.  The government will not have an attorney fighting you in your Social Security Disability claim.
  • All of your medical conditions that may impair your ability to perform work will be considered by the Social Security Administration in determining whether or not you are entitled to receive Social Security Disability benefits.
  • Do not be discouraged if you are denied in your first application for Social Security Disability.  You should immediately send the denial to your attorney so that a Request For Reconsideration can be filed.  Many times, people are denied three times before they receive their Social Security Disability award.
  • It is very important to have a treating physician help you with your Social Security Disability claim.  Usually, the physician who is in the best position to help you is your personal physician.