There are many misconceptions about the benefits available to people injured on the job. Some people think workers' compensation benefits are reserved for only severe or fatal injuries while others assume that they could be fired if they file a claim for benefits. Believing these and other misconceptions can be a costly mistake, especially when it comes to assumptions regarding the actual amount of compensation that may be available.
Some people think workers' compensation is only nominal; others think it will completely replace their lost wages and cover medical bills. The truth falls somewhere in the middle. While workers' compensation does not provide compensation for past, present and future suffering, it should cover your medical expenses and help compensate for lost wages. One type of workers' compensation covers all reasonable medical bills associated with healing from an injury. This can include expenses from emergency care and surgery to medication and a wheelchair.
When your injury temporarily prevents you from returning to work
If you cannot work temporarily as a result of your injury, you may receive Temporary Total Disability benefits, which are non-taxable. In Illinois, these benefits are equal to two-thirds of your average weekly wages, though there are maximum and minimum amounts the state establishes. For injuries suffered after July 15, 2018, and Jan. 14, 2019, the maximum weekly amount is $1,480.12; the minimum depends on whether you have children and/or a spouse.
There are generally two circumstances in which TTD benefits are owned:
- You are off work and under a doctor's care, with a doctor's note supporting your claim.
- You have work restrictions due to your injury that your employer cannot accommodate.
If your employer can accommodate your work restrictions, you will generally go back to work on light duty. However, even in these circumstances you may continue to qualify for benefits in certain cases.
If you return to work on light duty, you may still qualify for Temporary Partial Disability benefits if one of the following is true:
- Your employer calls you back to work on light duty but with limited hours, so you do not receive as many hours of work as you had prior to your injury.
- Your employer calls you back to work full-time but cuts your pay.
How long will the benefits last?
Medical benefits will cover all reasonable medical expenses as long as you are receiving authorized treatment for the condition. TTD benefits will last until you return to work. If a work accident leaves you with permanent disabilities, then you may qualify for Permanent Total Disability benefits, which you would continue receiving indefinitely.
Pursuing the benefits that you deserve
As you can see, workers' compensation benefits are not insignificant. And while the benefits won't completely replace the money you would earn at work, they can provide critical financial support when you need it most.
Therefore, it can be crucial to discuss these benefits and the application process with an attorney who can help you pursue maximum compensation and avoid mistakes that could jeopardize your claim.