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Workers’ Compensation 101

Injuries at work happen, nearly 43,000 people filed claims with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation in 2015, and that number is just a fraction of all work-related injuries. If you have been injured at work you may wonder what steps need to be taken. It is important to note that almost all employees are covered under Illinois law. It doesn’t matter if you are a full time or part time employee, and it doesn’t matter if you were injured during your first day on the job or your thousandth.

If you have been injured at work there are steps that you need to take to ensure you receive your benefits. The first step is to inform your employer of the injury. It is important to give notice within 45 days to help you receive your benefits in a timely manner. Make sure that you are able to record the date of the injury and the location where it occurred if it is an acute injury. If you believe your injury is a gradual one, let your employer know when you started to notice symptoms. Your employer will likely have you fill out an injury report. They should then submit an accident report to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. This is not the same as filing a claim with the Commission. If an employer is not paying benefits to the employee, the employee can then file a claim and request a hearing from the Commission. You may worry that filing a claim will lead to reprisals from your employer but it is illegal for them to terminate your employment, harass you, refuse to rehire you, or discriminate against you in any way due to your injury. For more information about filing a claim, check out the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission Handbook.

The next step, if you hadn’t already taken it, is to seek medical treatment for your injury. Under Illinois law an injured worker can choose who their doctor. It is important to inform your doctor that you are seeking treatment for a work-related condition. Dr. Lawrence Li and his staff have years of experience treating injured workers and understand the complexities involved with a work place injury. The staff at Orthopedic & Shoulder Center are familiar with the workers’ compensation process and will work with your adjustor, case manager, and attorney to cut through the red tape and make sure that you receive the care that you need.  Please visit the Worker’s Comp section of our website to see how we help you get the care you need.

 

Those injured at work may experience similar frustrations with the workers’ compensation process.

  1. Your Rights- One of the three basic rights that injured workers in Illinois have under the Worker’s Compensation Act is to receive medical care at the employer’s expense for conditions that are related to the workplace injury. There is no minimum length of time that you have to work for your employer before you are covered. If you are hurt during your first day at work, you are still entitled to receive this important benefit, even if you had not worked there long enough to qualify for employer-sponsored health insurance.Many employers try to force injured workers to receive their medical care at “company clinics” as part of the effort to keep medical costs down. However, injured workers have the right to select two doctors to provide them with medical care. Further, they can also receive care from any doctor who they are referred to by the doctor that they chose, as well as by any doctor whom they are subsequently referred. This is commonly referred to as the Two Doctor Rule.
  2. Paperwork – You will likely be required to fill out paperwork detailing the injury for your employer, you may need to fill out paperwork for the insurance company, and will need to fill out patient forms at the providers office. It may be helpful for you to write down the date of your injury and how it occurred so that you can copy this information and provide it to the requesting parties, along with the paperwork they require.
  3. Keeping track of appointments and offices – The goal of your provider will be to get you well again, in as timely of a fashion as possible. They may prescribe therapy to help you return to your daily activities more quickly. The Orthopedic & Shoulder Center aims to help ease your schedule with our in office therapy departments. Many times a patient is able to schedule therapy and an appointment with Dr. Li on the same day so that they only need to come into the office once, instead of making two trips. We also have an in-office MRI, X-Rays and MSK Ultrasound for our patients’ convenience. Additionally, patients who have workers’ compensation claims are able to have prescription medication dispensed to them in-office.
  4. Work Restrictions- Sometimes your injury may not allow you to work to your full capacity. Your safety is the most important priority to Dr. Li and his staff.  If you cannot perform your job without causing further injury, then Dr. Li will place restrictions on your work or take you off work until you are better.
  5. More Paperwork- When you are injured, there will be a variety of paperwork that will be completed from a simple doctor’s note to complex insurance claim forms. Our office is here to help and support you so that you get all these forms completed in a timely manner.

Dr. Li and the staff at Orthopedic & Shoulder Center know how to deal with many difficult issues surrounding medical care during a workers’ compensation case, and we will do our very best to have get you better so you can get back to work, and live your normal life again.

 

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