COVID-19 Update: How We Are Serving and Protecting Our Clients

“I am furloughed/laid off because of Covid-19, is it too late to file a Workers’ Compensation claim for a work accident I had?” “Can I still get compensation benefits if I no longer work for my employer?” “I had an accident at work some time ago but never filed anything, and now I am laid off, can I still file a workers’ compensation claim for that accident?

The short answer to these questions is: “Yes, you can still possibly file a workers’ compensation.” It will be highly dependent on the facts of that specific case, but you can still file a claim if you met the criteria. This is where an experienced attorney can help and guide you with your possible claims. Understanding a few important provisions of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act is vital to preserving your rights if you’ve been laid off or furloughed because of Covid-19. Or, even if you have an older claim that you did not want to pursue at the time but now want to see if you are still entitled to compensation.

How long do I have to file a claim?

Even if you are no longer working for your employer, you are legally entitled to file a workers’ compensation claim within three (3) years from the date of the injury/accident, or two (2) years from the date of last compensation received because of the injury, whichever is longer. 820 ILCS 305/6(d) Illinois General Assembly. Outside of these time periods, you may find yourself barred from receiving any compensation for that work accident and injury. However, it is important to understand that just because you may still have the ability to file a workers’ compensation claim, there is no guarantee you will be entitled to benefits if you do not take the proper steps in preserving your case.

What should I do preserve my rights?

While you have a fairly generous amount of time from the date of the original injury to file a workers’ compensation claim, it is often not in your best interest to wait to speak to an attorney and/or file a workers’ compensation claim. This is because while it appears you have 3 years to file your case, you still have to preserve your case at the present time so that you have the right evidence to present to the Arbitrator when the time comes for that.

Ultimately, the likelihood your employer will deny any benefits you are entitled to receive will only increase the further it took place from the date you file an application. Under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, “Notice of the accident shall be given to the employer as soon as practicable, but not later than 45 days after the accident.” 820 ILCS 305/6(c) Illinois General Assembly. Notice of the accident can be either oral notification to the employer or done in writing. In the event your work accident happened more than 45 days ago and you did not already give direct notice to your employer, an experienced attorney may be able to argue, in certain circumstances, that your employer had sufficient notice of the accident through specific legal mechanisms which may be able to save your claim.

This notice requirement is usually the first hurdle an injured worker faces when handling a potential claim under Workers’ Compensation. Under Illinois case law, when an injured worker seeks to file a workers’ compensation claim, they have the burden of proving their case to obtain compensation under the Act. O’Dette v. Indus. Comm’n 79 Ill.2d 249, 253 (1980). So, getting as much useful and accurate information on record as possible is going to beneficial to an injured worker later on in their case.

Therefore, beyond just notifying your employer of the accident itself, one of the best sources of evidence for your claim will be the treating doctor’s medical records. Documentation in the medical records about your accident, time periods and time frames, and symptoms of the injury are all important to preserving your case when the time comes to fight for your benefits.

There are many potential missteps or pitfalls for an injured worker’s, if you do not know what to do. For this reason alone, it is wise to speak to an experienced Workers’ Compensation attorney and to get guidance from the outset. Katz Friedman offers free consultation appointments and phone calls. We will gladly inform you of your rights and entitlements, but also significant considerations you must take into account right away to preserve your claim.

A lot of times, the initial steps you take after a work accident can have a dramatic impact on your potential claim. But, if you waited or sat on a potential workers’ compensation claim for whatever reason, you are not alone and it may not be too late to help with your claim.

Katz Friedman currently represents many injured employees who initially delayed pursuing their own workers’ compensation claims and then were denied benefits by their employer. Through our experience and knowledge, we may be able to help preserve your claim and get you the compensation you are entitled to. If you or someone you know, needs assistance in pursuing a claim for compensation for a work injury, the attorneys and staff at Katz Friedman are here to help.

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