The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act provides the only legal remedy against the employer for a worker accidentally injured on the job. This guide to workers’ compensation is presented here to assist you in claiming your rights under this law. This brief outline of the Act applies to accidental injuries and exposures which happen on or after February 1, 2006. For complete information, including your rights for injuries occurring before February 1, 2006, contact us.
The Statute and thousands of court and Workers’ Compensation Commission decisions interpreting it are quite complicated.
A Summary of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act
If you are injured in the course of your work, you may be entitled to three benefits from your employer: payment of weekly compensation, all reasonable and necessary medical expenses, permanent disability, serious and permanent disfigurement, and death benefits.
Your Compensation Rates
Your weekly compensation rates are the basis for figuring benefits under the Act. You have two compensation rates, both fixed as of the date of your accident. Both rates are a percentage of your average straight time weekly earnings for the year before your accident, but are subject to certain maximum limits and also to minimums for low paid workers. Certain circumstances may permit inclusion of overtime earnings in this calculation.
One rate applies to three kinds of payments: temporary total, total disability and death. This rate is two-thirds of your average weekly earnings, limited by a maximum which is subject to change every January 15 and July 15, according to fluctuations in the statewide average wage. For example, for accidents from January 15, 2005 through July 15, 2006, this maximum rate is $1,096.27.
The second rate applies to permanent partial disabilities, such as specific loss, and is set at 60 percent of your average weekly wage. The maximum for this rate was fixed at $591.77 per week for accidents from July 1, 2005 through June 30, 2006.
Kinds of Payments
Temporary Total Compensation (“TT”)
If because of an injury on the job, you are unable to work for more than three working days, you are entitled to weekly payments in the above amounts. Payment for the first three days are due if your period of total disability extends for more than fourteen calendar days from the date of injury.
Temporary total compensation continues as long as you are totally disabled and under treatment.
Temporary Partial Disability
When the employee is working light duty on a part-time or full-time basis and earns less than he or she would be earning if employed in the full capacity of the job or jobs, then the employee is entitled to temporary partial disability benefits.
Permanent Disability, Disfigurement or Death
Specific Loss Compensation
A “specific loss” is a permanent disability to certain specific “members” or parts of the body. Once your injury has stabilized, you may be entitled to a monetary settlement or trial award based upon many factors.
Recovery is allowed for partial loss of hearing due to exposure to loud noise.
Person as a Whole
A worker who is disabled may receive up to five-hundred weeks of compensation for permanent partial disability to the whole body.
Permanent Earnings Loss
A permanent reduction in earnings capability is also compensable. The injured worker is entitled to 66-2/3% of the reduction for life, subject to limitations.
Permanent Total Disability
Inability to Work. If an injury results in complete disability so that the employee is wholly and permanently incapable of work, compensation is payable weekly until death, or until the employee is able to return to work.
Disability Based on Specific Loss. The total loss of use of both hands, or both arms, or both feet, or both legs, or both eyes, or any two of them – as for example, one arm and one leg – suffered in an accident constitutes permanent total disability and entitles the employee to weekly compensation payments until death even if the employee can work.
An employee who suffers permanent scars on the hand, head, face, neck, arm, upper chest or the leg below the knee, may recover for disfigurement. The amount payable varies in each case, depending on the seriousness of the disfigurement, but it can in no case exceed 162 weeks.
Fatal Injury Compensation
Where an employee dies as a result of accidental injuries on the job, leaving a widow (or widower), children or other dependent heirs, compensation may be payable. A widow (or widower) receives the compensation rate each week until she/he dies, up to a maximum of 25 years, or until she/he has received $500,000.00, whichever is greater. However, if the widow (or widower) remarries at a time when there are no dependent children, she/he receives only a lump sum of 2 years compensation. Children may receive benefits up to age twenty-five if they are full time students. The burial benefit is $8,000.00.
Click here for the remainder of the Workers’Compensation Guide.
Click here for the law relating to injuries and exposures before February 1, 2006.