Anatomy of a Workers Compensation Claim: Notifying Your Employer and Hiring an Attorney Before Your Time Runs Out

This article is designed to explain the basics of a typical Workers’ Compensation claim to help injured workers protect their rights.

Workers Compensation in Illinois is designed to promote the general welfare by providing compensation for accidental injuries, or death suffered in the course of employment to most workers with job-related injuries. The benefits are paid regardless of fault. The Supreme Court of Illinois put it best when it stated “the primary purpose of the Workmen’s Compensation Act is to provide employees a prompt, sure, and definite compensation, together with a quick and efficient remedy for injuries or death suffered by such employees in the course of their employment…and to require the cost of such injuries to be borne by the industry itself and not by its individual members.” O’Brien v. Rautenbush, 10 Ill.2d 167 (1956).

Further, this Act obliterates the general requirement for an injured party to prove the other party (employer) was at-fault for their injury. In this way, the Act provides financial protections for injured workers by providing benefits to those workers without forcing them to show negligence on the part of the employer. It also frees injured workers from being punished for making a mistake by prohibiting a reduction in those benefits by contributory negligence. In this way, an injured or, in some cases, a sick worker can receive a portion of their wages, medical benefits, and expenses.

The Act also is designed to give you the right to a “quick and efficient remedy” when you are not receiving the benefits you deserve. In order to accomplish this, the legislature has established the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. For a typical Workers’ Compensation case, an arbitrator is assigned to decide cases. For all intents and purposes, most Workers’ Compensation attorney’s view this individual as the “judge” for your case. As is discussed later, if a worker is not pleased with the decision of the arbitrator he, or she, may appeal the decision by following the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission’s rules and, eventually, end up in Court, but that is extremely uncommon.

Even though the Act does provide for benefits, the employers, and their insurance companies, have no duty to file a claim with the Workers Compensation Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. This is true regardless of whether they began paying you benefits for lost time from work, medical bills, and expenses immediately following your injury or illness. In fact, the law makes it clear that it is your job to protect your own rights in two very important ways.

First, it is your duty to notify your employer that you have been injured. In this regard, an employee must notify an employer that they have suffered an accidental injury arising from the employment. This notice period is very quick and must generally be done within 45 days of the injury. Fortunately, notice may be accomplished orally (by simply telling the employer you have been injured). Even though notice can be accomplished orally, to avoid problems I always recommend that an injured worker give the employer a written notice with the following:

1. The date and location of the accident;
2. A brief description of the accident, injury or disease; and
3. The employee’s name, address, and telephone number; and
4. Be sure to give notice to a manager and not a co-worker.
a. I also recommend sending notice to Human Resources, the Registered Agent, and the    President of the Company.

Second, you must file a claim with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. Failure to file your claim can have drastic and irreversible damage on your case and rights! In this regard, you must file a claim within the time limits set by the Act itself or YOU WILL LOSE ALL OF YOUR RIGHTS TO COMPENSATION. Although the exact time limit that applies varies based on your particular injury, illness, and facts, you should act quickly. As such, I highly recommend that you contact our office so that we can discuss your case.

After you have made the decision to discuss your case with an attorney it is time for your Initial Meeting With Your Attorney and Preparation for Filing Day.

If you, or a loved one, has been injured at work, then you need information about your rights. At Shunneson Law Office, I am devoted to demanding an insurance company cover your injuries following accidents. Call (847) 693-9120 for more information or contact us to schedule a consultation. Located in Lake County, Illinois, with meeting locations throughout Chicago, we have the ability to meet with you at any convenient Chicagoland location from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday – Friday. However, evening and weekend appointments are available upon request by calling 847.693.9120.

-Drake Shunneson (copyright 2012)

NOTICE: The materials provided are for informational purposes only and should not be viewed as legal advice. It may also be viewed as advertising material. You should contact us directly, or your attorney, to obtain advice to any issue or problems. This article, by itself, does not create an attorney-client relationship and the opinions are those of the individual author and do not reflect the opinions of the Law Office or any other individual, attorney, entity or individual. Photos courtesy of