Workers' Compensation Hearings for Teachers
Many people do not realize that teachers face risk of significant injuries on the job. Teachers may need to bring workers’ compensation claims as a result of repetitive stress injuries, slip and fall accidents, toxic exposures, violence, work-related stress, illness transmission, or hearing loss. Our Chicago workers’ compensation attorneys represent injured clients in workers compensation hearings for teachers. The workers’ compensation system is complex. As a teacher, it may be difficult to obtain the benefits you need.Chicago Workers’ Compensation Hearings for Teachers
In Chicago, workers’ compensation is a no-fault system that serves as the exclusive remedy for teachers injured on the job. Accordingly, teachers do not need to prove that their school or other employer was at fault for their workplace injuries. Likewise, the school may not reduce the workers’ compensation benefits provided to teachers by faulting them for their injuries. For example, if a teacher strained a back muscle by moving a student desk using improper lifting techniques, the school may not terminate workers’ compensation benefits by presenting evidence about how the teacher should have lifted the desk to avoid injury.
You may ask for a hearing if the school or other employer denies you benefits for work-related injuries. You may also request a hearing when an employer pays some benefits but refuses to pay others. You may also ask for an immediate hearing if your employer initially accepts your claim and pays benefits, but later stops paying them.Presenting Evidence at Workers’ Compensation Hearings for Teachers
During a workers’ compensation hearing, the teacher, employer and insurer will have the opportunity to present documentary and testimonial evidence. The evidence may include testimony from your treating physician, an independent medical examiner, doctors’ reports, medical records, and vocational rehabilitation experts. In some cases, the evidence is contradictory and the arbitrator faces a difficult task to sort through competing accounts and explanation, and to determine credibility of these witnesses and records. Your treating physician may have more credibility than the independent medical examiner, for example, if your treating physician has evaluated you and treated you over a period of several years, but the independent medical examiner saw you only for an hour. On the other hand, if your treating doctor doesn’t have much experience treating your particular injuries, while the independent medical examiner is an expert in that particular subspecialty, the independent medical examiner may have more credibility.
Sometimes nonexpert testimony is required. This could include testimony from coworkers and family members. For instance, if you were injured in a staff lunchroom due to a defective chair, but your employer and its insurer believe you were injured off the job in a recreational activity, it could be helpful for a fellow teacher who witnessed your accident to testify as to what happened. Your family members may be able to testify as to your difficulties in doing household ordinary tasks, to buttress a claim that you can no longer work. Similarly, if you have PTSD as a result of a school shooting, your family members may be able to testify as to what they’ve witnessed regarding symptoms like insomnia or flashbacks.Right to Appeal Workers’ Compensation Hearings for Teachers
The arbitrator’s decision after the hearing can be appealed to a panel of three commissioners. In addition to reviewing the other materials, they may hold another hearing. The commissioners’ decision may be appealed to the civil judicial system.Retain a Chicago Lawyer Who Understands Risks Teachers Face
It is imperative to retain an attorney to present your case for workers’ compensation benefits to an arbitrator. The arbitrator’s decision is appealable, but most people with significant injuries need benefits as soon as possible, rather than face the delay of an adverse decision from an arbitrator. Teachers with work-related injuries should talk to the seasoned lawyers of Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca about work injuries. We also represent injured nurses in Champaign, Rockford, and Aurora, as well as Kane, Cook, Sangamon, and Winnebago Counties. Call us at 312-263-6330 or 800-444-1525. Alternatively, you may complete our online form.