Frequently asked questions regarding workers’ compensation claims in Illinois. To learn more or discuss the specifics involved with your case, call and schedule a consultation with an Oak Lawn workers’ compensation lawyer today.

 

 

How Long Does It Take To Get My First Workers’ Comp Check?

It is highly unlikely you will receive your first workers’ compensation check the same time you would have received your paycheck. It will take time for you to begin receiving your workers’ compensation checks. First, your employer has to report the injury to their insurance company and the insurance company has to set up your claim. Second, even though your work injury may be clear cut, the insurance company has the right to investigate your claim. An insurance company may contest your claim which will also result in a delay. We advise our clients that it can take up to 30 days to begin receiving your disability checks. You will receive a check for all the time you miss, but it will take time to get the first check. McCready Law will do everything we can to get your checks started, but it does take time.

When do I get my workers’ compensation disability check?

When you are injured on the job, you are entitled to be paid. But, there are many exceptions. First, workers’ compensation does not have to pay you for the first three days you miss. If you are off for more than two weeks, then they will pay you for those first three days. But if you return to work within two weeks of your injury, the law does not require that you be paid for those first three days. Second, workers’ compensation is allowed a reasonable time to investigate your work injury. Finally, workers’ compensation may claim a defense and your lawyer may have to go to court to get your checks issued.

Where do my workers’ compensation checks come from?

Most employers have workers’ compensation insurance who will pay you while you are off work. Your workers’ comp checks will come from the insurance company, not your employer. Typically, checks are mailed to you on a weekly basis. Some insurance companies allow for direct deposit of your disability checks. We always recommend this option where available. It avoids checks being “lost in the mail” and you know exactly when the check is posted and when it is late. Some employers, rather than submit a claim to their workers’ compensation insurance carrier, will pay you directly if the injury does not appear too serious.

Do I Have To Pay Taxes On My Workers’ Comp Checks?

Workers’ compensation will pay you 2/3 of your average weekly wage (AWW) while you are off from work. Federal and state taxes are NOT taken out of your workers’ compensation checks. There may still be deductions for union dues, health insurance, child support, etc., but not taxes. Because no taxes are taken out, you do not pay taxes on the money you receive from workers’ compensation. At the end of the year, you will receive a W-2 only for the time you worked, not the time you were on workers’ compensation.

What Will Cause My Workers’ Comp Checks To Stop?

First, you MUST get a doctor’s note every time you see the doctor. The doctor’s note must be specific as to the time period you are to be off from work (or restricted duty) as well as the detailed reason why you are unable to work. It may seem obvious to you and your doctor why you can’t work, but to ensure your workers’ comp checks are not disrupted, you need the detailed doctor’s note on each visit. Doctor’s notes should be updated every 30 days. The insurance company will also require updated medical records from your doctor’s visits. McCready Law coordinates between the insurance company and your doctor to make sure there is no disruption in your checks. If your check is late, we find out why, get it fixed, or go to court to force the insurance company to issue your disability check.

The Insurance Company Sent Me For An IME And Now Stopped My Check

If you are hurt on the job and your treating doctor keeps you off from work, the insurance company must pay you unless there is a contrary medical opinion. Because of this, insurance companies frequently send injured workers for an “Independent Medical Examination” (IME). If that doctor’s report states you are able to work, even though your doctor says you should be off from work, the insurance company has the right to stop your workers’ compensation checks.

What are my options following an IME?

There are several different courses of action when an insurance company stops your checks after an IME. First, you can try to return to work. Second, you can stay off of work and your lawyer can request a hearing to reinstate your checks. Unfortunately, a hearing is not a quick process and you will not be receiving your checks during this time period. If you prevail, you will get that back disability pay retroactively, but that does not help you pay your bills in the meantime. Most importantly, do not file for unemployment. Filing for unemployment is an admission that you are physically capable of work, just as the IME doctor claims! When your checks are stopped, it is important to consult with your lawyer about your options and your chances of success.

I Won’t Have To Pay Attorney Fees If I Do It Myself. Won’t I Get More Money?

In our experience, injured workers almost always walk away with more in their pocket even after paying their lawyer 20% attorney fee than they would have on their own. Do you really know what a fair settlement would be of your workers’ compensation case? Not what you want, or what you feel you deserve, but what would be decided by an arbitrator at the Workers’ Compensation Commission? Many things can happen which can hurt your workers’ compensation case. Having a lawyer minimizes the chances of something happening.

Sometimes clients come to us after having tried to do it themselves and they have made such mistakes it is impossible for us to even straighten it out. When our sink is leaking, we call a plumber. When our furnace goes out, we call an HVAC contractor. We expect to pay for their work. When you are hurt on the job, you should retain a lawyer and not try to handle it yourself.

Do I Have To Pay A Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Upfront?

All workers’ compensation cases are handled on a contingency fee basis. This means that there is never an upfront fee and you will never be asked to pay your lawyer from your pocket. A [workers’ compensation lawyer] gets paid at the end of the case from any recovery. The attorney fee in workers’ compensation cases is 20%. Finally, if there is no recovery, there is no attorney fee. If we take your case, you can assume we feel that we will be able to make you a recovery because if we cannot make a recovery for you, we don’t get paid.

How Much Does A Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Charge?

All workers’ compensation lawyers charge the same fee. The law states that a lawyer may charge 20% of the recovery. The injured worker receives 80%. This is true even if you change lawyers (see below). In our experience, clients receive more in their pocket even after paying 20% attorney fees than if they handled the matter themselves.

I Am Unhappy With My Current Lawyer. Can I Fire Him/Her And Hire A New Attorney?

You have the absolute right to fire your current workers’ compensation lawyer at any time. You are paying that lawyer 20% of your case, you should expect a certain level of service on your case. Are you receiving your disability (TTD) payments regularly and on time? Is your medical treatment being approved? Are your questions being answered and your phone calls being returned? These are all things which your lawyer should be doing. If they are not, you should consider switching lawyers to one which will provide this minimal level of service to you and your case. Even if you switch lawyers, you will never pay more than a combined 20% for attorney fees. For a second opinion, please feel free to contact us.

I Want A Second Opinion. Can I Contact McCready Law?

We are always available for a second opinion. If you have doubts that your lawyer is not doing what he or she is supposed to do, give us a call. Sometimes, clients are dissatisfied with the “system” and there isn’t very much any lawyer can do about that. We’ll tell you if your concern is normal or if your lawyer should be doing more. If you question the amount of an offer, we will try to give you an approximation of what typical cases are worth, based on a variety of factors. If we feel we can do better, we will tell you that. All our consultations are free. For a second opinion, please feel free to contact us.

Should I Take FMLA Leave During My Work-Related Injury

If your employer has FMLA, you should fill out the required paperwork regardless of your workers’ compensation case.

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a law which requires your employer to allow you to return to your position after up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. FMLA only applies to certain employers, usually those with over 50 employees. If your employer has FMLA, you MUST fill out FMLA paperwork in order to have your job available after your injury resolves. Simply because you have a workers’ compensation case does not require your employer to allow you to return after your injury. If you qualify for and apply for FMLA, your employer must take you back. Your ability to return to your job can be complicated and having an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer assisting you may make the difference between getting your job back or having to look for a new one.

Does My Employer Pay My benefits, Such As Health Insurance, While I Am Off Work?

Your employer is not required to pay your benefits while you are off from work. Many people are surprised to learn that an employer is NOT required to continue to pay fringe benefits to an injured employee. Most importantly, this means that an employer does not have to continue your health insurance coverage while you are off from your job due to a work injury.

An employee is often left with the choice of losing health insurance (including that for the worker’s family) or paying the premiums themselves. The failure to pay benefits is a glaring hole in workers’ compensation which can only be changed by the Legislature. Fortunately, some employers and many unions will continue to make payments for fringe benefits for the injured worker, but this is not required by The Workers’ Compensation Act.

My Employer Is Not Paying Me Disability (TTD), Should I File For Unemployment?

Be careful about applying for unemployment when you are hurt on the job. Usually, we do not recommend applying for unemployment while you are injured. Sometimes the insurance company suspends or terminates your TTD payments and you and your family have no money coming in to support yourselves.

Unemployment seems a quick and easy solution. However, by applying for unemployment, you are certifying to the State that you are ABLE to work. The insurance company will use your application for unemployment against you and argue (successfully) that they do not have to pay TTD for the disputed time. If you have been medically released to return to work and your position is no longer available or the company is no longer in business, in that case you should apply for unemployment.

Unemployment is a tricky issue when you have a work injury and you should speak to an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer before making a mistake on your case.

What Is The Difference Between Workers’ Compensation Disability (TTD), Short Term Disability (STD), And Long Term Disability (LTD)?

Always apply for employer sponsored disability when you are hurt on the job. Some employers provide short term disability which provides a percentage of your income (usually 60-75%) while you are off for a qualifying condition. A work injury almost always qualifies under short term disability. Short term disability, as the name implies, lasts a short period of time, usually 60-90 days. If a worker continues to be unable to work beyond the short term disability period, then long term disability takes over.

Long term disability usually pays a much lower amount to the employee, usually 50-65% of your income. You should always apply for STD and LTD if available. Your workers’ compensation disability (TTD) is considered primary, but if the insurance company suspends or terminates your TTD, your STD or LTD will kick in so you have some income. This can allow you the ability to continue to fight your case, rather than give up because you have no money coming in from workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation gets credit for any STD or LTD payments, so you should [consult with a workers’ compensation lawyer] so you are not short-changed by the insurance company.

It Does Not Look Like I Will Be Able To Return To Work, Should I Apply For Social Security Disability?

Social Security Disability can affect your workers’ compensation case in many ways. Social Security Disability is a federal program that provides money to those who cannot work due to certain disabilities. The list of qualifying disabilities is long, but many physical injuries from work accidents can qualify an individual for Disability. If you expect your injury to keep you off from work for one year or more, you should consider applying for Disability.

The process of applying for, and being accepted for, Disability is lengthy and sometimes complicated. Also, being accepted for Disability can affect your workers’ compensation TTD payments as well as your final settlement. Be sure to consult with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer before applying for Disability or settling your workers’ compensation case. Our Workers’ Compensation Department lawyers work closely with the lawyers in our Social Security Disability Department to maximize the benefits under both claims.