John Lesaganich, P.C., Attorney at Law
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Peoria Workers' Compensation Blog

Can you collect both workers' comp and SSD benefits in Illinois?

Sometimes a worker in Peoria will suffer a major injury in the course of work duties and will need to take time off work to recover. Leave the workforce involuntarily can have a significant financial impact on a person. For this reason, Illinois offers workers' compensation benefits and the federal government offers Social Security Disability benefits to qualified applicants. It is important to determine which type of benefits suits your situation, as, in general, a person who receives workers' comp will see a reduction in the amount of SSD benefits they are qualified for.

First, workers' comp is generally only collected for injuries or illnesses suffered in the workplace. However, a person who suffers an injury or illness either at work or outside of work may be able to apply for SSD benefits. In addition, workers' comp may be available to those who have a temporary injury. However, to qualify for SSD benefits, a person generally needs to have suffered an injury that will last a year or more, or is expected to be fatal.

Are nurses at risk for repetitive stress injuries?

Whether administering medication or typing notes into patient records, nurses have many daily duties that require some sort of physical exertion. When this constant physical effort leads to continual motions that put strain on nurses’ bodies, repetitive stress injuries (RSI) can occur.

RSI are commonly associated with office workers typing on computers every day. However, RSI can occur in a wide array of industries across Illinois workplaces, from factory workers moving products on an assembly line to retail workers hanging clothes to nurses caring for patients and more.

Can you suffer a workers' compensation injury at home?

Most people in Illinois understand that if you get hurt at work, you may be eligible for workers' compensation benefits. For example, a person might have a workers' compensation injury if they throw out their back trying to lift something heavy at work or if they experience repetitive stress trauma from performing repetitious tasks at work all day long. However, what if a person is injured outside the workplace? Can such an injury allow them to pursue workers' compensation benefits?

In general, to receive workers' compensation benefits, a person's injuries must be work-related. What is considered a work-related injury can be interpreted rather expansively, however. For example, depending on the circumstances, if a worker is driving a company-owned vehicle in the course of job duties and is subsequently involved a car accident, then the worker may be able to pursue workers' compensation for the injuries they suffered in the crash. Similarly, if a worker is injured at an official company event held by their employer, such as the company holiday party, that worker might pursue workers' compensation even if the event was not held on company-owned property.

Can you seek workers' comp if you are partially at-fault?

Sometimes a person in Illinois is injured at work because they received inadequate training or because equipment they were working with was not properly maintained. Other times, workers are injured in workplaces that are inherently dangerous. Sometimes a worker is injured on the job due to their own actions. These workers may wonder if they can pursue workers' compensation benefits, even if they were partially at-fault for their injuries.

Workers' compensation in Illinois is a no-fault law. What this means is that injured workers do not need to show that their employer committed some act of negligence to pursue benefits. For example, a worker who unknowingly slips on a spill on the floor while at work that should have been cleaned up may pursue workers' comp, as their injury was caused by a negligent act of their employer. However, a worker who injured their back using poor lifting techniques may also be able to pursue workers' comp under the right circumstances.

Women are at risk for assault-based workplace injuries

We would like to think that our workplaces are safe, but sometimes workers in Peoria are injured on the job due to the actions of another. Assault is, unfortunately, a significant cause of workplace injuries, and one that Illinois employees and employers should take seriously.

Per a National Safety Council analysis, the number of women assaulted while on the job saw a 60 percent increase from the number of women assaulted in 2011. In 2017, 12,820 women suffered assault-related injuries while on the job. In comparison, 5,530 men suffered such injuries on the job that year. Women suffered 70 percent of assault injuries in 2017.

Illinois police officer awarded $45,963 in workers' comp benefits

The work of police officers in our state is crucial to the safety of our community. However, it is undeniable that being a police officer can be a dangerous profession. So, when a police officer is injured in the course of his or her job duties, he or she will want to pursue workers' compensation benefits, just like any other injured worker would. A denied workers' compensation claim could necessitate an appeal before the worker is awarded the benefits he or she deserves.

An officer who works for the Arlington Heights police department has recently settled a workers' compensation claim with her employer, in the amount of $45,963. The original claim was filed in 2018 for an injury that the officer claims to have suffered in December 2014. The officer reportedly suffered an injury to her shoulder while engaging in defensive tactics training.

Peoria residents do not have to suffer on-the-job injuries alone

Some occupations in Illinois are inherently dangerous. For example, those who work in manufacturing often work with heavy machinery or machinery with rapidly moving parts that they could be caught in or struck by. Or, for example, firefighters put their health and safety at risk every day to save the lives of others.

However, even occupations that might seem safe can cause injuries. For example, nurses can injure their backs moving a patient. Or, restaurant workers could suffer a slip-and-fall accident or could suffer cumulative trauma from having to repeatedly use their arms, shoulders and hands. Even office workers could suffer repetitive stress injuries from having to type for many hours in a row, or they could injure themselves lifting something heavy or trying to reach something on a tall shelf.

Employers have duties in the workers' compensation process

In general employees in Illinois perform their basic job duties without incident. However, even the most careful employees can find themselves injured in workplace accidents. Employers here are obligated to take certain steps in the workers' compensation process after they receive notice that a worker has been injured on the job. First, the employer must provide first aid or other medical services, if necessary. Second, the employer must inform their workers' compensation administrator or their insurance carrier that the incident occurred. Employers must do this even if they want to dispute the worker's claim.

If the worker is unable to return to his or her job for more than three days due to the incident, the employer must start paying the worker temporary total disability benefits. If the employer is not going to pay benefits at this time, it must provide the worker with an explanation in writing of what information the employer needs before it will start paying workers' comp, or alternatively, why the employer is denying the worker's claim for benefits entirely.

Illinois workers can suffer a variety of injuries on-the-job

Most residents recognize that some jobs involve a lot of physical activity or involving working around heavy machinery. Workers in these occupations may enjoy their jobs, but unfortunately these jobs can pose hazards to workers. Certain injuries are common in the workplace.

One common cause of workplace injuries is overexertion. For example, a person could be injured lifting, pushing or pulling a heavy object. A person could also be injured from having to reach too far, crawl or kneel for an extended period of time, or from having to bend too far or hold a position too long. Overexertion often causes a person to injure his or her shoulders, neck or back.

What can Illinois workers do when denied workers' comp?

It is easy to understand why some jobs, such as those in the construction or manufacturing industries, could lead to on-the-job injuries. However, even those who work in an office could suffer a workplace injury such as carpal tunnel syndrome if they type at a computer all day long or a back injury if they strain to lift something heavy. When workers in Illinois are injured in whole or in part from their work, they may want to seek workers' compensation benefits.

But, there will be times when an employer refuses to pay workers' compensation benefits to an injured employee. When this happens, the employee should first contact his or her employer to find out why the employer refused to pay him or her workers' compensation benefits. Sometimes the issue boils down to a misunderstanding, and the denied workers' compensation claim can be rectified internally.

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