This is the next post in a series of articles discussing workplace injuries resulting in permanent disability claims in Peoria, Illinois. My previous post discussed the differences between a permanent partial disability (PPD) and a permanent total disability (PTD). Other than individuals who suffer specifically defined catastrophic injuries such as the loss of two limbs, if an injured worker can return to work in some capacity following the injury, they will likely be considered to have a PPD. The determination, based on the severity of one’s injuries and ability to work in the future, will impact the amount of lost wages to which a person will be entitled to recover through the workers’ comp system. In this post, I will discuss the process for filing a permanent disability claim in Illinois. If you or a loved one have suffered a serious accident at work, contact my office as soon as possible to schedule a consultation with a lawyer.
If you have been seriously injured in the course of your employment, then you may file a claim through Illinois’ workers’ compensation system. You must inform your employer about the incident, either orally or in writing, typically within forty-five days after the accident. If an incident caused catastrophic injuries, the employer will likely be aware of the accident, however, it is important that either you or your representative document the event in writing with your employer. Your employer is required to report the incident to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. In most instances, you will have up to two years in which you may file a claim for benefits. It is imperative, in the case of permanent disability cases, for the claim to be filed with the Commission as soon as possible after the injury. Filing a workers’ comp claim will preserve one’s legal right to receive compensation in the future. Failing to file the claim within the prescribed deadline, even if the employer is voluntarily paying benefits to the injured worker immediately following the injury, will likely preclude any claims from being made related to the same injury.
Once a claim is filed, the Commission will appoint an arbitrator to handle the case and schedule an initial hearing. The employee bears the burden of proof at the hearing to demonstrate that they are eligible to receive benefits. Particularly in the context of a permanent disability, information about the date, location, and nature of the injury, as well as records of employment and medical exams, will be relevant. If the employer does not dispute the claim, the arbitrator will schedule periodic status updates to review the matter until a final determination is made. If the employer disputes the claim at the initial hearing or anytime thereafter or if the employee believes they are not receiving appropriate benefit payments, the parties may request a trial. This is not uncommon in PPD or PTD cases, in which employers often challenge the worker’s assertion that they cannot return to work, either in a reduced capacity or entirely. The initial hearing and any required trial will include the presentation of evidence and the calling of witnesses. In permanent disability cases, expert witnesses such as physicians or vocational experts may be needed to testify about your ability to return to work or your potential lost wages. This process can become contentious and may be complicated. With so much at stake, it is essential to retain an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to assist you through the process.
I take pride in helping injured Illinois workers receive the compensation to which they are entitled. If you need assistance, contact our Peoria office today to speak with a lawyer. Our firm also serves clients in the Illinois cities of Bloomington, Eureka, Galesburg, Morton, Normal, Pekin, Springfield, and Washington.