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Why Is Having a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Important?

April 26, 2022

If you have an Illinois workers’ compensation claim, it is important to have a lawyer on your side. Even though employers and their insurance companies are supposed to pay benefits on a “no fault” basis, many companies make it extremely difficult for injured workers to collect the benefits they deserve. Having a lawyer can turn the tables in your favor, as there are many steps a lawyer can take that you won’t necessarily be able to take on your own.

The Chicago workers’ compensation lawyers at Coplan + Crane understand the hardships faced by injured workers in Illinois. Whether you work in construction, a factory, on the railroad, or at a desk, you deserve experienced counsel on your side to ensure your rights and best interests are protected.

Here are seven reasons why it is important to have a workers’ compensation lawyer if you have suffered a workplace injury in Illinois:

1. Meeting Illinois’s Legal Requirements to Remain Eligible for Workers’ Compensation Benefits

If you qualify for workers’ compensation, there are several requirements you may need to meet in order to remain eligible for benefits. For example, in most cases, you must report your injury to your employer within 45 days. If you wait too long to report your injury – or if you don’t report your injury properly – this could lead to a denial.

Additionally, depending on the terms of your employment, you may need to see an approved doctor. Illinois law allows employers to establish a panel of physicians who are available to treat their employees in some cases. If you are required to choose a doctor from your employer’s panel of physicians and fail to do so, this could also lead to a denial of benefits.

2. Determining Which Benefits You Are Entitled to Receive

While the term “workers’ compensation benefits” is often used generally, there are actually a few different types of benefits you may be eligible to receive if you have been injured on the job. These include:

  • Medical benefits (coverage for treatment of your workplace injury)
  • Temporary disability (if you are unable to work for a period of time)
  • Permanent disability (if you are unable to return to work indefinitely)
  • Loss-of-use or disfigurement benefits (if you suffer permanent physical effects)
  • Vocational rehabilitation or maintenance benefits (if you need training to get back to work)

3. Calculating Your Workers’ Compensation Benefits

In addition to determining which benefits you are entitled to receive, your lawyer can also calculate how much you are entitled to receive. This is especially important with regard to disability benefits, as these benefits are based on your average weekly wage (AWW) and other factors. Maximums and minimums apply as well. An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer will be able to accurately calculate your benefits so that you don’t unknowingly accept less than you deserve.

4. Making Sure Your Doctor Doesn’t Send You Back to Work Too Soon

If you are eligible to receive workers’ compensation disability benefits in the state of Illinois as a result of your injury, it will be important to make sure you don’t return to work too soon. If your doctor clears you to work before you are ready, you may be forced to decide between foregoing income and taking the risk of exacerbating your injury. To avoid this issue, your lawyer can work with you throughout the recovery process; and, if your doctor clears you to work prematurely, your lawyer can fight to make sure you continue receiving disability benefits until you are truly ready to resume your job duties.

5. Making Sure Your Employer Doesn’t Terminate Your Benefits Prematurely

In addition to terminating employees’ benefits when their doctors clear them to work, employers (and their insurance companies) frequently terminate employees’ benefits for other reasons as well. While some of these reasons are legitimate, others are not. Having a lawyer on your side will reduce your risk of premature termination, and it will ensure that you are prepared to take immediate legal action if necessary.

6. Being Prepared to Negotiate a Settlement (If This Is Your Best Option)

Settling your workers’ compensation claim avoids the risk of premature termination, and it allows you to receive one lump-sum payment instead of receiving weekly checks. Settling isn’t right for everyone; but, if it is your best option, you will need a lawyer to negotiate for a fair settlement on your behalf.

7. Being Prepared to File an Appeal If Necessary

If your employer (or its insurance company) wrongfully denies your claim or terminates your benefits prematurely, you may need to file an appeal with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC). Strict deadlines apply to WCC appeals, and you must follow strict procedural rules as well.

Of course, you also need to know how to prove that you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Given the deadlines and challenges involved, in the event that you need to file an appeal, it will be important to have a lawyer involved who is familiar with the facts of your case.

Speak with a Chicago Workers’ Compensation Lawyer for Free

If you would like to know more about the importance of hiring a Chicago workers’ compensation lawyer to represent you, we invite you to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at Coplan + Crane.

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To speak with a lawyer about your claim in confidence, call (708) 358-8080 or tell us how we can reach you online today. Coplan + Crane welcomes clients from Chicago, Oak Park, Rockford, and other areas in Illinois.