Workers' Compensation FAQs

Job Injury Attorneys Advocating for Chicago Workers

Workers’ compensation laws in Illinois provide benefits to people who suffer injuries or develop a medical condition caused by their job. Benefits available under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act may include medical care, rehabilitation costs, and partial or total disability coverage. At Katz, Friedman, Eagle, Eisenstein, Johnson & Bareck, our Chicago workers’ compensation lawyers help employees pursue their right to benefits under the IWCA, and we also help ensure that workers do not suffer harassment or retaliation because they filed a claim. We have represented individuals from diverse employment backgrounds as they seek benefits for their work-related injuries. Often, there are questions about coverage and legal requirements associated with a claim. We are prepared to offer guidance regarding any issues that may concern you.

What is the Difference Between Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury Claims?

Generally, the difference between a personal injury claim and a workers’ compensation claim is that workers’ compensation benefits are limited to payment of medical costs, lost wages, and disability. Workers’ compensation is termed an exclusive remedy because it is the only method for an injured worker to recover benefits, and it precludes the possibility of filing a personal injury claim against their employer. However, in some cases, injured workers may pursue a personal injury claim against a third party as well as a workers’ compensation claim against their employer.

Which Types of Injuries are Covered by Workers’ Compensation?

Injuries or illnesses that occur while employees are acting for their employer, or in the course of employment, are compensable under the IWCA. Physical injuries may range in severity from carpal tunnel syndrome to the loss of use of a body part. Mental injuries, such as those caused by extreme stress or other psychological factors, may also be covered by workers’ compensation. Employees seeking benefits under the Act must prove that the accident arose out of and was in the course of employment.

Employees who suffer pre-existing medical conditions that are made worse at work may also recover benefits under the Act. A work accident may aggravate a pre-existing condition, such as arthritis. Medical opinions will be needed to establish the causal relationship between an accident and a condition, which will depend on the details of each case.

Repetitive trauma on the job is also covered by the IWCA. In contrast to acute injuries, such as a broken leg or a sprained ankle, repetitive trauma may be more challenging to determine in terms of the onset. However, the date of the injury is important because the employee has a certain time period (45 days, typically) to report the injury to their employer.

Does Drug or Alcohol Use Affect Eligibility for Workers’ Compensation?

According to Illinois law, compensation will not be paid to employees if their own intoxication or drug use was the proximate cause of their work injury. Employees are also denied compensation if they were so intoxicated when the injury took place that it was a “departure” from the employment. The Act also provides that intoxication may be proven through breath, blood, or urine tests. The IWCA specifies admissible blood tests and outlines how that evidence may be preserved.

When an employer requests a drug test, and the employee refuses, this creates a rebuttable presumption that the employee was intoxicated and that the intoxication was the proximate cause of the injury. Since it is a rebuttable presumption, it may be overcome. An injured employee will not be automatically denied benefits after being asked to take a drug test or after the test leads to a positive result.

Does Employee Negligence Affect Eligibility for Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. This means that an injured employee need not prove the fault of their employer for their injuries. In a situation in which the employee was negligent, they may wonder whether they can still recover workers’ compensation benefits for their injuries.

Employee negligence and human error is a leading cause of on-the-job injuries. Workers’ compensation protects individuals who suffer job-related injuries, regardless of their own negligence. However, in cases in which an employee willfully ignores repeated warnings not to engage in certain conduct, that may not be deemed simple negligence. If the facts indicate that an employee's conduct was beyond negligent, it may bar them from recovering workers' compensation benefits.

Contact a Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Chicago to Understand Your Legal Rights

The experienced job injury attorneys at Katz, Friedman, Eagle, Eisenstein, Johnson & Bareck have decades of experience advocating for the legal rights of workers under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. After an accident or work-related illness, our Chicago workers’ compensation lawyers can offer assistance and guidance as you file a claim for benefits. We have helped individuals and families in Champaign, Aurora, Springfield, Quincy, and other areas of Winnebago, Kane, Sangamon, Champaign, Adams, and Cook Counties. Call us at (800) 444-1525 or complete our online form for a free consultation.