Can You Quit a Job While on Workers’ Comp in Illinois?

Can You Quit a Job While on Workers’ Comp in Illinois?

While it’s possible to quit a job while on workers’ comp in Illinois, doing so could significantly reduce the amount of compensation you can recover. It’s important to understand how quitting a job at the wrong time might affect your settlement amount and which steps you should take if you plan on quitting while on workers’ comp.

Construction worker suffering severe pain after an accident.

What Happens if You Quit a Job While on Workers’ Comp in Illinois?

When filing a workers’ compensation claim under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, workers may be unable to perform the same duties they could perform prior to their work-related accidents. Others may be physically capable of returning to work, but mentally unwilling to regain employment in the same or a similar capacity. In these instances, workers may consider quitting their job while their workers’ comp case pends a resolution, but this may not be in their best interest depending on the circumstances.

If you sustained a work injury and are considering quitting your job, this decision could hurt your case even if it may continue. 

How Does the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act Work?

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act is in place to provide certain protections for workers who have sustained work-related injuries on the job. This act enables workers to receive compensation from their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company to cover various medical expenses along with lost income and others. In addition to medical costs, workers may be able to receive compensation for vocational rehab along with permanent partial disability (PPD) or temporary total disability (TTD) benefits if they are unable to work the way they could before their injury.

Despite the benefits that injury victims may recover through workers’ compensation, workers may decide that they want to quit their job before their workers’ comp case completes. Although you may still be able to receive workers’ comp benefits after quitting your job, there are some potential downsides that may make you reconsider quitting while your case is still pending.

How Does Quitting a Job Impact Workers’ Comp Benefits?

Generally, if you decide to quit your job before settling your workers’ comp case, you may still be able to recover your benefits. You will still have the right to this compensation from your employer’s workers’ comp insurance carrier. However, this decision may compromise your case if you gain employment with another company while your case is pending, which could lead to a reduction of certain benefits.

Will Quitting Your Job Reduce Your Workers’ Comp Settlement?

One way you might hurt your chances of getting full compensation when you need it is if you change jobs at some point before your payments conclude. If you get a new job elsewhere while still pending workers’ compensation benefits, there may be questions regarding responsibility for medical coverage if your condition worsens on the job. While your current and former employer attempt to resolve this issue, you may be without benefits for a certain amount of time.

Reduction of TTD Benefits

In other cases, you might see a reduction of either PPD or TTD benefits. TTD benefits cover the income you lose while you’re unable to work during recovery after a work injury, which may result from surgery or other treatments that require a certain period of recovery.

If you’re receiving TTD benefits, you may be able to return to work but in a limited capacity. For example, you may experience a limited range of motion that prevents you from performing the tasks you used to be able to do, but you can still lift boxes or perform other types of tasks. In these instances, you would still be able to work under your employer.

If you decide to quit before you receive all of your TTD benefits when you could have still had a job with your employer, your employer may decide to cut off payments. The argument that the employer would make here would be that you decided to quit despite the fact that you could have continued working for the company after your injury. This could lead to the end of your TTD benefits.

Reduction of PPD Benefits

Employers may also choose to end permanent disability benefits under the same circumstances. These benefits would normally cover loss of future earning capacity if a disability renders you unable to return to work. If you quit your job while your case is pending, your employer may claim that you could have continued receiving benefits but that you have declined the position the employer held for you. As such, the employer may attempt to show that there is no loss of earning capacity for the employer to compensate at that point.

You might not see an end to your benefits in these situations, but you could see a considerable reduction of them, which could prevent you from getting the compensation you need to cover medical expenses and other losses.

Consider the Impact of Quitting Before Taking Action

Sometimes quitting a job may seem like the best option, particularly if an employer fails to maintain a healthy and safe workplace for its employees. However, you’ll want to reconsider this decision if you are in the process of settling a workers’ comp case. Often, it’s best to wait until you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI), which is the point at which your doctors determine you have recovered as much as possible. 

Discuss Your Case With a Work Injury Lawyer

Illinois Workers' Compensation Attorney David Martay

If you’re thinking about quitting your job while waiting for the completion of your workers’ comp case, you may be better off waiting until your case has finished. An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can give you advice about which steps to take in your case and help determine if it’s a good idea to leave your job when you’re considering quitting.

A work injury attorney will be able to discuss your case in a consultation and determine what options are available to you. Additionally, an attorney will be able to help you apply for workers’ compensation by helping start the claims process and advising you on how to proceed with your case.

When you hire an attorney for your workers’ compensation case, you’ll also gain access to the resources you need to build your case. It’s important to have sufficient evidence to prove the nature of your injury, which can help you get the full compensation you deserve for your work accident. Your attorney may be able to gather this evidence in the form of:

  • Images of your injuries
  • Medical records and reports documenting your injuries and treatment
  • Records of the accident
  • Witness statements from individuals present at the scene of the accident
  • Doctors’ notes approving time taken off from work
  • Medical bills
  • Proof of lost income

Ultimately, a workers’ compensation lawyer may help you build a strong case that you might otherwise be unable to develop on your own, particularly if you must focus on recovering.

What to Expect During the Workers’ Comp Claims Process

If you’re new to the workers’ compensation process, you’ll want to know what you can expect and the typical timeline of a workers’ compensation claim. To help guide you through the process, the following are some of the steps you can anticipate when filing a workers’ comp claim.

1. Notifying Employers 

To receive compensation for a work injury, you will need to meet a couple of key deadlines. The first is your employer’s deadline, which gives you a number of days to report your injury to your employer after the accident. In Illinois, this deadline is 45 days after the date of the accident.

You can then get the paperwork needed to formally file an injury report and get started with the claims process.

2. Filing a Claim

The next step to take and the next deadline to meet pertains to filing a workers’ comp claim with your employer’s workers’ comp insurance company. Under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, workers have up to three years after the accident to file a claim, or two years after the end of their benefits.

3. Changing Conditions

Unexpectedly, your condition may change over time after a work-related injury. For instance, you might experience new symptoms or your condition may generally worsen, which can impact your ability to continue working in the same position. Subsequently, you may get more time to file your claim. 

What Steps to Take With a Workers’ Comp Attorney

If you work with a work injury lawyer to help handle your workers’ comp case, there are some steps that your attorney may guide you through as you navigate your case. 

These steps entail the following:

1. Discussing Your Prospective Case

The first step will involve the attorney “interviewing” you and vice versa in a free consultation. During this initial consultation, the attorney will want to know all the details of your case, including information about your injuries and initial accident. In the process, the attorney will inform you of your rights and let you know what to expect when going through your case. The attorney will then decide whether to take you on as a client and you can decide whether the attorney is the right fit for you and your case.

2. Sending New Documentation and Filing the Claim

The next step will involve the attorney sending you relevant documentation through your preferred method of contact. The next step will entail the attorney filing a workers’ comp claim, at which point your case will receive a designated number along with an arbitrator who will help reach a settlement with the workers’ comp insurance company.

3. Managing the Claim

The third big step will involve adhering to your doctor’s treatment and continuing the medical recovery process. At the same time, you will be able to receive TTD benefits at this time if you are unable to work until you’ve recovered enough to return to your previous position or a new one.

4. Reviewing All Medical Reports and Records

At some point during your case, you may reach MMI and no longer require medical care. Under other circumstances, you may require continuing care as you go through a prolonged recovery period. In either case, an attorney can help calculate all medical expenses by obtaining copies of medical expenses and records from your care providers.

5. Negotiating Settlements

Your attorney may then begin to speak with your employer or the workers’ comp insurance adjuster assigned to your case to discuss a potential settlement. Throughout this stage of the claims process, your attorney will detail the specifics of your case, including the nature of your injuries and the accident. Subsequently, your lawyer will attempt to reach a favorable settlement from the other parties involved, ideally out of court.

6. Going to Trial

In rare instances, workers’ comp insurance companies or employers may refuse to agree to a settlement amount, in which case your lawyer may attempt to take the case to court. If your lawyer decides to go to trial with your case, this process would begin with preparations under the case’s assigned arbitrator and go through the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. However, cases rarely go to trial and typically settle before ever reaching this point. 

Your attorney will also be able to keep you updated regularly throughout the claims or legal process, ensuring you’re never in the dark regarding the details of your case.

Quitting a Job Before the Completion of a Workers’ Comp Case in Illinois

Although you may be able to quit your job and have good reason in certain situations, you may want to wait until you’ve fully recovered and settled your workers’ comp case. Quitting your job with the wrong timing could hurt your chances of getting full compensation, even if you deserve a large amount of TTD or PPD benefits. 

author-bio-image author-bio-image
David W. Martay

David W. Martay, a partner at Martay Law Office in Chicago, IL, is a top-rated workers’ compensation lawyer who represents injured employees throughout the state. Known as a highly-skilled advocate for his clients, David has recovered millions for victims of workplace accidents.

Years of Experience: More than 25 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active

Bar Admissions: Illinois State Bar Association

author-bio-image author-bio-image
David W. Martay

David W. Martay, a partner at Martay Law Office in Chicago, IL, is a top-rated workers’ compensation lawyer who represents injured employees throughout the state. Known as a highly-skilled advocate for his clients, David has recovered millions for victims of workplace accidents.

Years of Experience: More than 25 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active

Bar Admissions: Illinois State Bar Association