How to Report a Workplace Injury

How to Report a Workplace Injury

Knowing how to report a work injury is essential in protecting your rights. If you have suffered a work injury in Illinois, report it within 45 days of the accident. The law requires you to report the injury either orally or in writing. However, it is advisable to report it in writing to avoid any ambiguity or issues that may arise later. If you fail to report your injury within the stipulated timeframe, your claim may be denied under Illinois law. This may happen irrespective of your accident’s circumstances or why you failed to report it on time.

Woman filling out work injury claim form. How to report a workplace injury.

What Are Considered Workplace Injuries in Illinois?

To qualify as a work-related injury, the injury must occur in the workplace and arise out of the performance of a worker’s job duties. A good rule of thumb is if the worker is engaged in a task that would benefit their employer, the worker qualifies for workers’ compensation benefits. Although work accidents usually occur on company property, they may also happen in other environments.

When you are injured at work off the clock, it can qualify as a work-related injury. However, not all accidents that happen while a person is at work qualify as work-related injuries. For instance, if the accident occurs while the worker is visiting the workplace as a member of the public, or caused a physical altercation, the worker might not be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

What Are the Most Common Types of Workplace Injuries in Illinois?

Illinois workers often experience various types of injuries while on the job. Some common examples of such injuries include:

Slip and Fall Injuries

Accidents resulting from slips and falls are common in workplaces across Illinois. These incidents happen when a person trips, slips, or falls due to various reasons such as potholes, cracks, tripping hazards like exposed wiring, wet floors, or food/liquid spills. Such accidents can lead to severe injuries like broken or dislocated bones, sprains or strains, concussions, back injuries, and other health problems.

Repetitive Stress Injuries

In Illinois, it’s typical for workers to perform repetitive movements and physical activities repeatedly throughout the day. This can lead to the development of repetitive stress injuries that can have an impact on their ability to work. Although carpal tunnel syndrome is the most commonly known type of repetitive stress injury, there are several others that can result in long-term complications.

Vehicle Accident Injuries

In Illinois, various professionals drive vehicles as a regular part of their job duties. This group includes police officers, truck drivers, salespeople, public transportation drivers, and many others. Vehicle collisions occur frequently in Illinois, especially in densely populated urban areas.

Occupational Exposure

Workers in Illinois face a range of dangers in their workplaces, such as exposure to harmful particulate matter, enduring loud noises or extreme temperatures, and encountering other occupational hazards that could lead to lasting injuries or illnesses.

Overexertion and Fatigue

Extended periods of physical activity can be tiring and carry the potential for accidents related to physical exertion, such as lifting, bending, pulling, pushing, and kneeling.

How to Report a Workplace Injury in Illinois

To initiate a claim, reporting an injury is necessary. As soon as the employer is made aware of the injury, he or she is required to report it to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. The first step is to inform the state and the insurance carrier, which will ensure that the benefits and medical expenses are paid.

Reporting a workers’ compensation injury in Illinois can be confusing and frustrating, as the information from your employer may not match the actual state law. Therefore, it is important to understand the requirements and tips for a successful workplace injury report to ensure that you receive fair compensation.

When to Report a Workers’ Compensation Injury

Illinois law mandates that an employee report any workplace injury within 45 days of the accident. However, if the injury results from toxic exposure or repetitive/cumulative use, the worker must report it within 45 days of becoming aware of the workplace cause. Waiting beyond 45 days after getting hurt may result in losing all benefits. Therefore, we highly recommend reporting any injuries as soon as possible. Although waiting up to 45 days is legally permissible, doing so may give your employer grounds to dispute your claim. Reporting the injury sooner makes it harder for them to dispute it later.

Give Written Notice

You should report any work-related injury directly to your manager, HR department, or any other authority figure at your workplace. Ensure you follow your employer’s protocol for reporting injuries and keep a copy of all reports for your records. If you report the injury to a co-worker who is not in management, it will not be considered as notice to your employer.

While Illinois law does not require a written accident report to validate your notice of injury, it is highly recommended to provide it. You can give notice either verbally or in writing. However, if you report the injury verbally, your employer may dispute what you said or when you said it, creating confusion. To avoid ambiguity, it’s best to provide written notice. If you must report verbally, write down everything afterward or email your supervisor summarizing what was said to create a timestamped written record of your report. This will help avoid any disputes in the future.

What to Include in Your Notice

Your notice should include the date, place, a short description of the accident, injury, or disease, and your contact information.

Injured workers often face difficulties receiving compensation due to insufficient information in their accident report. To receive compensation, workers must prove that they suffered an accident or other conditions at their workplace, and that the accident or condition was the direct cause of their injury or illness. This is known as legal causation.

For instance, workers experiencing a slip-and-fall accident, must demonstrate that the accident happened at their workplace and that it was work-related. Was there an obstacle in the way? Were they carrying any boxes or supplies that limited their visibility? Did any colleague distract them? Were they in a hurry for any work-related purpose? These factors can all be considered as causes. After determining the cause, doctors can testify how the accident caused the injury, like how falling at work resulted in a back or neck injury.

Proving the cause can sometimes be challenging. In lifting and pulling strain injuries, reporting a workers’ compensation claim requires documentation of the exact moment the injury occurred. Feeling sore from moving heavy boxes all day may not qualify as a specific workplace accident. Furthermore, if the accident exacerbated a pre-existing injury or condition, it is important to document how and when the accident occurred and the extent it contributed to the aggravation.

When Should You Consult a Workers’ Compensation Attorney?

The best time to consult with a workers’ compensation attorney is immediately after getting injured. An attorney can help you navigate the process of obtaining disability benefits and other necessary assistance. However, if you have not consulted with an attorney initially, you should seek their help as soon as any complexity arises in your case.

Some examples of situations that call for a workers’ compensation lawyer’s intervention include: when your employer denies your claim or fails to pay your benefits promptly, when the settlement offer from your employer does not cover all your lost wages or medical bills, when medical issues limit your ability to perform your job or prevent you from working altogether, when your employer retaliates against you for filing a workers’ comp claim, when you are injured due to a third party’s actions or your employer’s serious misconduct, or if you failed to report your work injury.

What to Do if Your Workplace Injury Report Is Denied

After reporting a workplace injury, you may file a workers’ compensation claim to receive compensation for the harm caused. However, if your claim is denied, you still have options. You can appeal the denial through one or more stages to continue pursuing compensation. It is your right to appeal the decision through the following avenues:

  • In Illinois, workers denied compensation can seek recourse by bringing their cases to an arbitrator appointed by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission.
  • If the arbitrator’s decision is unsatisfactory, workers can appeal to a three-person panel of IWCC commissioners.
  • If the panel denies benefits, the injured worker can further appeal the case to the state’s Circuit Court and Appellate Court.
  • If all the appeals mentioned above are unsuccessful, the injured workers can take their cases to the Illinois Supreme Court.

The final steps of this procedure are rare. Most cases related to workplace injuries are resolved before they reach the highest legal authorities in the state. The Illinois Supreme Court releases only a small number of opinions regarding workers’ compensation annually.

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