Although every workers compensation case is different, below is a list of the typical process involved in Illinois.
Step 1: Worker is injured.
Injury can either occur immediately during a specific accident, or it can be realized over time from repetitive trauma.
Step 2: Worker notifies his or her employer.
Workers are encouraged to notify their employers as soon as possible after an injury. It is a requirement for workers to notify their employers within 45 days of when they know or reasonably should know that they were injured on the job.
Step 3: Worker receives medical treatment.
Workers are encouraged to seek medical treatment as soon as possible after an injury. The worker's employer must pay for 100% of the reasonable and related medical treatment, which includes co-payments and out of pocket expenses.
Step 4: Worker obtains a lawyer.
Retaining a lawyer can increase an injured worker's chance of receiving all of the benefits allowable under Illinois law. Although injured workers are not required to retain lawyers, it is highly recommended. Illinois workers compensation lawyers are paid based on a percentage of the benefits that they earn for their clients as opposed to an hourly rate. Thus, Illinois workers compensation lawyers only get paid if their clients get paid.
Step 5: Employer pays worker for lost time.
When workers are unable to perform their normal duties, and their employers are unable to find alternative duties within their medical restrictions, then workers are entitled to temporary total disability benefits for their time off work.
Step 6: Worker receives independent medical exams.
Typically, injured workers are required to visit an independent physician of his or her employer's choice.
Step 7: Worker's lawyer files petition for arbitration.
If a worker is not given the appropriate medical or wage benefits owed by his or her employer, then that worker's lawyer can file a petition for arbitration. When a petition for arbitration is filed, the dispute between the worker and his or her employer is resolved by an Arbitrator.
Step 8: Worker is discharged from medical care.
Occasionally, doctors determine that a patient has recovered from an injury as much as he or she possibly can. When this conclusion is reached, the patient is released from medical care and has no need for further treatment.
Step 9: Worker's lawyer negotiates settlement.
Once an injured worker has finished medical treatment, an attorney can begin negotiating an appropriate settlement based on a review of all of the medical treatment that was necessary for treatment of the injury.
Step 10: Either worker or employer can file an appeal.
If either party involved in arbitration is not satisfied with the result, they can file for an appeal. Appeals are first reviewed by a three panel board of Commissioners. After that, an appeal can be filed with the Circuit Court, Appellate Court, and possibly the Illinois Supreme Court.