What Are the Four Types of Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

What Are the Four Types of Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

If you were injured while performing your regular job-related duties, you may be entitled to recover workers’ compensation benefits in Illinois. There are four different types of workers’ compensation insurance benefits, including wage replacement benefits, rehabilitation benefits, medical care benefits, and wrongful death benefits. If you have experienced a workplace injury that has negatively impacted your life, or caused you to become disabled, learning about your options for workers’ compensation insurance benefits can help you financially recover. 

Cracked work helmet on the floor covered with pebble stones

What Is Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ compensation insurance is a program that provides financial or medical benefits to employees who have been injured in, or developed disabilities from, their places of work. The length of a workers’ compensation claim may vary, but it will depend on factors such as the type of injury, the employee’s recovery time, and settlement negotiation delays instigated by an insurance company. 

Within the workers’ compensation insurance program, injured or disabled employees can receive financial benefits from their employer to compensate for the impact of the workplace accident on their lives. The types of workers’ compensation benefits in Illinois that injured employees are insured for are wage replacement benefits, medical benefits, survivor benefits, and career rehabilitation benefits. 

Workers’ Comp Benefits Cover the Costs of a Workplace Injury

Injured or disabled employees receive financial benefits from the workers’ program. Financial benefits can include payments to reimburse employees who have lost wages due to their inability to continue working, and reimbursement for medical expenses from treatment needed for the injuries or disabilities sustained. 

Injured workers can recover roughly two-thirds of their earnings while away from work through wage replacement benefits. The type of medical care that is covered by workers’ compensation insurance can include most services provided by hospitals treating your injuries or disabilities. The available rehabilitation benefits for career support for injured employees who are unable to return to work may include financial reimbursement for vocational assistance, new certifications, and education. If a worker dies in a fatal workplace accident, his or her family can recover the costs associated with the loss. A workers’ compensation lawyer can help you determine what benefits you qualify for through the insurance program.

Workers’ Comp Is Separate From Other Disability Programs

The workers’ compensation insurance program should not be confused with Social Security disability insurance. Although both can replace wages for people with disabilities that prevent them from working, the two insurance programs have different requirements and sources. However, it is possible to obtain the benefits found in both types of insurance programs, subject to the offset reduction.

A Workers’ Comp Claim Is Not a Personal Injury Lawsuit

An injured employee who opts to take workers’ compensation benefits from his or her employer will forfeit the right to sue the employer or the company for the workplace accident. This is because the laws that require employers to carry workers’ comp insurance also dismiss an employee’s right to file a personal injury claim against an employer.

What Qualifies for Workers’ Comp in Illinois?

Any workplace injury sustained by a qualified employee qualifies for workers’ comp in Illinois. Workers’ compensation insurance is a reimbursement insurance program that is required for employers in Illinois. It applies to employees who have experienced accidents and suffered injuries, or developed disabilities, in their place of employment while performing their regular job activities. 

While employers are required to cover the costs of a workplace injury through the insurance program, workers’ compensation benefits do not apply to non-employees or independent contractors. Instead, these individuals will have to file a lawsuit against the employer or company when negligence causes their injuries.

How Long Is the Workers’ Compensation Claim Process?

The length of the workers’ compensation claim process can depend on factors present before and during the settlement negotiation process. These include the type of injury or disability the employee sustained from the work-related activity, the recovery period for the injury, and insurance delays instigated by the insurance companies to stall the settlement negotiation process. It may be helpful to know how long a typical workers’ comp settlement takes, and how long a claim can stay open. 

The length of the workers’ comp claim process can vary. Once an injured employee has sought medical treatment after the work-related accident, reported the accident to his or her employer and other relevant authorities, and spent time recovering from the initial impact of his or her injuries, the settlement negotiations can begin. 

The timeline of settlement can be affected based on the severity of the injury, the length of the recovery time, and the presence of a workers’ comp lawyer. More severe injuries take longer to reach maximum medical improvement (MMI), delaying the damage calculation process. Delays created by an insurance company to stall the settlement process include bad communication, processing and procedural delays, disputing aspects of the claim, and not making payments. 

How long does a workers’ comp claim stay open? Injured employees have generally three years from the date of their workplace injury to initiate the workers’ compensation process. Employers must be informed about the injury and the accident within 45 days after the date of the workplace accident. For cumulative injuries and conditions, the discovery rule applies. This means the deadline doesn’t initiate until the injury is diagnosed or reasonably should have been discovered.

Types of Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Illinois

In Illinois, an injured or disabled employee can obtain workers’ compensation insurance to cover lost wages, medical care, career rehabilitation, and survivor benefits. 

Wage Replacement

Wage replacement benefits apply to employees who have developed a temporary or permanent disability status because of the workplace injury. Disability benefits can be further broken down into temporary partial disability, temporary total disability, permanent partial disability, and permanent total disability. It is beneficial to understand the differences between the four types of disability statuses, so you can better identify which type of benefits fit your situation. 

Medical Care

Medical care benefits include financial reimbursement for medical expenses resulting from treatment for injuries and temporary or long-term disability. Medical costs can be disputed by the insurance company during the settlement negotiation process. It is important to receive the appropriate medical treatment for your injuries, regardless of the medical expenses you may incur. 

What Medical Care Is Covered by Workers’ Compensation?

Most medical services that treat an employee’s injuries or disabilities, both in the immediate aftermath of the workplace accident and during the recovery period, can be covered by workers’ compensation medical benefits. Medical costs or services have the potential to be disputed by insurance companies for any reason, so it’s essential to receive the proper and necessary treatment needed for your injuries or disabilities. 

The types of medical care benefits that an injured or disabled employee can obtain include:

  • Visits to a doctor or clinical physician. 
  • Stays at a hospital or any place of rest and healing. 
  • Medical examinations, including blood tests and wellness check-ups. 
  • Equipment to assist injured or disabled people, such as a wheelchair. 
  • Medications, including prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs. 
  • Reimbursement for expenses spent on traveling to and from various medical institutions, if applicable. 

Career Rehabilitation

Rehabilitation benefits consist of vocational services and therapy for employees who are unable to easily return to employment. These benefits can pay for new certifications, training, and education that helps injured victims rebuild their working capacity.

What Rehabilitation Benefits for Career Support Are Available?

Rehabilitation benefits for career support are another option for injured or disabled employees under the workers’ compensation insurance program in Illinois. Vocational rehabilitation is the ongoing process of providing training and career support to injured or disabled employees who struggle with returning to employment after their injury. These benefits also apply to those who are unable to work in their previous field because of their injured or disabled status, but can learn to do other work. 

Rehabilitation benefits for career support may include assessing and evaluating an injured or disabled employee’s work ethic, skills, limits and capabilities, and the circumstances of his or her injury. The vocational services may also include training and refresher courses that are designed to teach new job skills, enhance existing job skills, networking, and encouraging new paths to other forms of employment if an employee’s injury prevents them from going back to their previous profession. 

Vocational services typically will include career counseling and ongoing job support services to ensure that injured or disabled employees can adequately return to work without the impediments and obstacles that come with their injury. These rehabilitation benefits will be tailored to meet the specific needs of the injured employees and the circumstances of their injuries or disabilities.

Wrongful Death

In fatal workplace accidents, wrongful death benefits compensate families for the financial costs of their loss. These benefits only apply to surviving dependents or qualified family members, and they generally cover lost financial support, medical expenses leading up to death, funeral and burial costs, and any other expense directly stemming from the accident.

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