There are only a few very limited exceptions to this rule, such as if you intentionally injured yourself, were hurt in a fight you started, or were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident. (Even then, the presumption is that you’re eligible – the workers’ comp insurance company has to prove otherwise.) Otherwise, your employer has to pay for your medical bills and lost wages.
MYTH: “I was off-site or working remotely when the injury happened, so I don’t get workers’ comp.”
REALITY: Workers’ compensation has nothing to do with the location of the accident – it’s all about whether you were on the job when it happened. Generally speaking, your commute to and from work does not count as “on the job” (although there are exceptions), but any travel you do as part of your job duties does.
So, if you were injured in transit to or on the premises of a private home or another business as part of your job duties, you can still get workers’ comp. (Otherwise, people like plumbers and electricians who do most of their work off-site would hardly ever get workers’ comp at all.) If dangerous conditions at an off-site location caused your injury, you may also be able to file a third-party claim, which is distinct from your workers’ compensation claim and can be pursued at the same time.
MYTH: “I have good health insurance, so I don’t need workers’ comp.”
REALITY: Depending on your plan, your health insurance may or may not cover all the treatment you need for a work-related injury or illness. Moreover, even treatments that your health insurance “covers” are really only partially covered; you’ll still have out-of-pocket costs like co-pays, deductibles and travel expenses. Workers’ compensation pays for the full cost of all reasonable and necessary medical treatment for a work injury, with no co-pay or deductible. That includes medical tests, surgery and other procedures, physical therapy, medications, and even your mileage to and from the hospital, doctor’s office or pharmacy.
We strongly encourage people who are hurt on the job to file for workers’ comp to eliminate those out-of-pocket expenses. Your employer has already paid for insurance that covers your medical expenses, so why should you spend your own money? If you do have to pay anything out of pocket – the cost of gas or bus fare to get to the doctor’s office, for example, or co-pays while you’re waiting for your claim to be processed – be sure to save your receipts so you can get reimbursed.
MYTH: “I only just started at this job, so I can’t get workers’ comp.”
REALITY: You may believe this myth because certain benefits you get through your employer, such as health insurance, may be subject to a waiting period before you’re eligible. Workers’ compensation doesn’t work that way. You are eligible for workers’ comp on your first day of work. Employers covered by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act are required by law to provide workers’ compensation insurance for every employee, whether they’ve been on the job for a week or a decade.
MYTH: “When I’m hurt and can’t work, I only get 2/3 of my base pay for 40 hours.”
REALITY: By statute in Illinois – specifically, Section 10 of the Workers’ Compensation Act – your workers’ compensation wage loss benefits (temporary total disability and permanent partial disability) are based on your average weekly earnings in the 52 weeks prior to the accident. That calculation includes not only your regular wage, but also any incentive pay, vacation pay, holiday pay, sick pay, shift differential and cost of living adjustment you may receive.
The statute does not include bonuses or overtime, but depending on the circumstances, a judge may rule otherwise. That’s one reason why it’s important to have an experienced and diligent workers’ compensation lawyer on your side. We will fight for every dollar to limit your losses and help you collect enough wage loss benefits to live on while you focus on getting better. For example, if your job has mandatory overtime, we may be able to argue that your wage loss benefits should include those additional hours because they are a regular part of your job duties. Likewise, we may be able to argue that something your employer calls a “bonus” is really incentive pay and should be included. Illinois judges tend to take a dim view of companies that try to game the system.
As you can see from these examples, there are many myths and misconceptions around workers’ compensation in Illinois that employers and insurance companies exploit to pay injured workers less than they’re owed. That’s why it’s so important to have an experienced workers’ compensation attorney on your side, fighting for your legal rights. Contact Schweickert & Ganassin, LLP today to schedule your free consultation.