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

Articles Tagged with Injured Workers

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.

Industrial workers face many potential dangers every day at work. Conveyor belts are one such example. Conveyor belt accidents lead to roughly 9,000 injuries per year, along with dozens of fatalities, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Once workers become caught in a conveyor belt, they can suffer injuries like amputations, lacerations, burns, degloving injuries, bone fractures and death. In many circumstances, others may be to blame, whether totally or at least in part. These causes include a failure to perform the necessary maintenance on the plant’s machinery, defects in the machinery, and improper training. If you’ve been hurt in a conveyor belt accident, you should reach out without delay to an experienced Chicago work injury attorney to discover what legal options exist for you to receive the compensation you need.

Back in the fall, a very serious injury accident occurred at a packaging plant in Kane County. According to a kcchronicle.com report, the accident involved a temporary worker who became trapped in a conveyor belt assembly early one morning. The maintenance workers were able to take the conveyor belt apart and get the woman free before the fire department arrived. Despite being freed, the woman still faced serious medical issues. She was transported by helicopter to a nearby Level I trauma center with life-threatening injuries. (Level I is the highest level of trauma care.)

A later report indicated that, despite the extreme injuries, the woman survived. News reports did not divulge the results of the OSHA investigation, so it is not known exactly what caused this accident in Kane County.

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An article in the New York Times on April 22 noted that “outbreaks [of Covid-19] are mounting in processing plants and factories in Midwestern towns.” (Source)

We have been representing injured workers from these plants, factories and towns for over 50 years. We have seen ancient machines that were built without thought of the safety of the workers who operated those machines give way to more modern machines that may create an incrementally safer workplace but have automated away many of the jobs the grandparents and parents of today’s workers used to hold. We have seen jobs that were brutal and repetitive become modified to allow rotation so workers do not do exactly the same thing for their entire shift.

This is part of the cycle of manufacturing. When things are new they are engineered for profit and efficiency. After many workers suffer and many dollars are paid in claims the companies re engineer and try to come up with processes that are safer for union workers and less costly for the executives and insurance companies.

What do I do when I am injured at work?

You know your job and you know what to do when things are running smoothly and when things go wrong. However, when you get injured you may be unsure about what to do and what to say. Here are some helpful hints for figuring out what to do when you get injured at work.

1. Report everything. If you get hurt at work you should report the accident to your superiors as soon as possible. Let them know exactly what happened and when it happened. It is easy when you have a specific injury, “I picked up a box and felt a sharp pain in my low back.” It is harder when the injury is due to the repetitive and forceful activities that you do at work. If you have pain and think it is work related let somebody know about it and see a doctor. You will need to report the claim to your employer as soon as a doctor tells you that your pain may be work related. Reporting every injury does not mean you are going to a doctor or hiring a lawyer every time. You are documenting that something happened. If you get hurt on Thursday but do not report it until the following Monday your employer may question your claim. Report the accident as soon as possible.

Safety remains an important issue for teachers, teacher’s assistants and school workers. Numerous injuries occur while teachers and school employees strive to instruct and provide for the safety and well-being of students. Although the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act is a law set up to benefit and provide relief for the injured worker, skilled workers’ compensation attorneys familiar and experienced with school related injuries are frequently needed to ensure the injureds’ rights are protected. Katz, Friedman, one of the few law firms, approved by the Illinois Education Association (IEA) to handle work injures on behalf of its members has successfully represented the injured throughout Illinois including employees of Elgin’s School District U-46, Rockford School District No. 205, St. Charles Community Unit School District No. 303, and many more. We are proud to report two recent trial victories on behalf of injured teaching professionals.

In the first case, the injured, a physical education teacher, suffered an injury while teaching her class. The teacher was demonstrating stretches and exercises to her students when she injured her back. The teacher sought medical treatment immediately and was given work restrictions by her doctor. The school district stated that they could not accommodate her restrictions and would not allow her to return to work. The school district also refused to pay her off work benefits, pay for her continued medical treatment and refused to allow her to come back to work in any capacity until all of her restrictions were removed. The school district based their denial of workers compensation benefits on the notion that “demonstrating exercises to students was not an essential function of a PE teacher’s job duties.” The school district’s refusal to allow the teacher to return to work lasted five months. During this time, the injured teacher did not receive any off work benefits as provided under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. Katz Friedman attorneys fought for the injured teacher at trial before the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. The Arbitrator ruled in favor of the teacher and agreed with all of Katz Friedman’s trial arguments. The injured teacher was awarded full off work benefits, payment of all medical bills including repayment of her out-of-pocket medical expenses of over $1,000.00 and a substantial award for the permanent partial disability caused by the back injury.

In the second case, Katz Friedman attorneys received a favorable trial decision where a special education teacher’s assistant sustained a concussion after a student punched her in the head. The trial award was five times greater than the amount offered for settlement by the school district. At trial, the school district attempted to minimize the injured teacher’s assistant’s symptoms claiming they were not related to the concussion injury. The school district’s argument was supported by a doctor they retained for the litigation. Katz Friedman attorneys were successful in convincing the Arbitrator that the medical evidence and treating doctor’s opinions were more credible than the doctor retained by the school district. Although there is still time for the school district to appeal this very recent decision, Katz Friedman attorneys remain confident that the results will be upheld.

Many injured workers wonder if they need to file a workers’ compensation claim. Injured workers are often hesitant to file a workers’ compensation claim for a number of reasons. For instance, the injured worker may fear employer retaliation for filing a claim or the injured worker may think that the workers’ compensation claim process will be a long, time-consuming, and painful process with several doctor visits.

While there is no requirement that injured workers file a workers’ compensation claim, quite frankly, there is no reason not to file a workers’ compensation claim. The following lists several reasons why employees shouldn’t be fearful of filing a workers’ compensation claim:

  • Employers are prohibited from retaliating against you if you file a claim. State and federal law prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for reporting injuries. Moreover, employers are prohibited from offering bonuses or prizes for meeting safety goals if those incentives deter employees from reporting workplace injuries. Prohibited retaliation includes: demotions, disciplinary actions, dismissals, salary reductions, hour reductions, shift reassignments, and changes in job responsibilities. 

With every workers’ compensation claim comes an independent medical exam (IME). Because the medical exam is such a crucial part of the workers’ compensation claim, with the doctor’s report weighing significantly on the workers’ compensation settlement, it is important that injured workers understand what is involved with the workers’ compensation independent medical exam.

The following is a list of 5 things that injured workers need to know about a workers’ compensation doctor visit:

  1. You will need likely need to see a doctor chosen by your employer or its insurance company, even if you have already seen your own doctor. Illinois workers’ compensation laws allow employers to arrange for an independent medical exam, provided that the employer provides the employee with sufficient notice of the doctor visit, pays for the doctor visit, and reimburses the employee for his or her travel expenses to the doctor visit. It is important to note that the travel expenses should be paid in advance of the doctor visit and that the employee should not pay any portion of the medical expenses associated with the medical exam.
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