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

Virtual reality simulator aims to prevent workplace injuries

Factories are an important part of commerce in Illinois and nationwide. However, working in the manufacturing industry can be dangerous. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in the manufacturing industry 40 percent of injuries sustained on the job took place within the first year the worker was employed at that job and 60 percent of injuries sustained on the job took place within the first three months the worker was employed at that job.

One man who experienced first-hand how devastating workplace injuries can be and recognizing the need for improvements in the training of new workers in the manufacturing industry has developed a virtual reality simulator for use in the manufacturing industry as well as other industries where employees face hazards in the workplace. The simulator works by creating a digital image of the workplace and it can walk new employees through the process of resolving problems they may encounter in real life on-the-job. The simulator can also help refresh the memories of experienced workers regarding tasks that are not performed very often.

Illinois firefighters who contract cancer may receive benefits

Firefighters put their lives at risk day-in and day-out. Their bravery saves lives, but it can also cost them their health. For this reason, certain benefits are accorded to firefighters here who suffer cancer due to their work.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, firefighters are more likely than the general populace to receive a cancer diagnosis and to die from the disease. For this reason, many states have passed laws in which it is presumed that if a firefighter is diagnosed with cancer, either while employed or within a specific time frame once they retire, that the disease was caused due to their job duties. These laws are meant to make it easier for firefighters to obtain workers' compensation benefits or death benefits in the case of a fatality.

Watch out for repetitive stress injuries

Part-time workers in Illinois have the same worker’s compensation coverage as full-time employees: two-thirds of your lost income, recompense for medical expenses and, if you qualify, for some other expenses as well.

This means that restaurant workers who suffer from repetitive stress injuries can apply for worker’s compensation and get the time they need to heal.

Denied workers' compensation claims can be appealed

When a worker in Peoria is injured on-the-job, they may feel it is obvious that their claim for workers' compensation benefits should be approved. However, sometimes, workers in Illinois find that their initial claim for benefits is denied. But, this is not the end of the story. There are processes in which a worker can appeal a denied workers' compensation claim.

First, the worker will report the injury to their employer. Following that, the employer will report the injury to the Commission, if the injury results in more than three days of lost work. After that, the Commission will mail the injured worker a handbook letter. After that, the parties may resolve their case.

How long do I have to file a workers' comp claim in Illinois?

When a person is injured or made ill at work, it can be a frustrating experience. Not only are they concerned about regaining their health, but they may be incurring hefty medical bills and other expenses that they are unable to pay for, because they cannot work. It is for this reason that Illinois provides workers' compensation benefits to qualifying individuals.

Workers' compensation benefits are meant to offset the costs of medical expenses and lost wages a worker incurs when they are injured or made ill on-the-job, and thus cannot work. However, it is important for workers to realize that they only have a certain amount of time to file a claim for benefits. This time period is known as the "statute of limitations." If a worker fails to file a claim within the statute of limitations, they may be barred from filing a claim altogether, even if they otherwise would have qualified for benefits.

Many dangerous jobs cause injuries and deaths

While fishing workers took the top spot for most dangerous occupations in the U.S. according to a 24/7 Wall St. review of the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, people in Illinois may be surprised to hear of other occupations that ranked high in fatalities across the U.S. Many of these fatalities were related to working at dangerous heights, working with dangerous machinery or having to operate a motor vehicle for a substantial amount of time.

For example, refuse and recyclable material collectors ranked 5th in the most dangerous jobs in the U.S. with 34.9 fatalities per every 100,000 workers in 2017, and 1,340 nonfatal injuries that same year. Many of these workers use a motor vehicle every day as part of their job duties, which increases the risk of being involved in a traffic accident. In addition, these workers can be exposed to dangerous substances, resulting in illnesses.

Don't be discouraged by a denied workers' compensation claim

It can be incredibly discouraging for an injured worker in Illinois to go through the entire process of applying for workers' compensation benefits only to have their application denied. However, a denied claim for benefits is not the end of the story. It is possible to appeal a denied claim.

However, any steps taken after the denial of a claim for workers' compensation benefits can make or break the outcome of one's case. Therefore, many people in such situations choose to seek legal guidance. An attorney can provide insight when it comes to negotiating with insurance companies. An attorney can also represent clients at arbitration proceedings for a denied application for benefits.

What types of workers' comp benefits are available in Illinois?

No one in Illinois expects to be injured on-the-job, but such injuries happen to workers across the state every day. Of course, injured workers may be primarily concerned with regaining their health, but there are often many expenses they incur due to the injury they suffered. When this happens, they may want to seek workers' compensation benefits. There are several types of benefits that a worker might pursue through the workers' compensation system.

One benefit is compensation for medical care associated with the injury. If the employee cannot work due to the injury and needs time to recover, he or she might seek temporary total disability benefits. And, if the employee can return to the workplace on light duty but will not be paid as much as they were before the injury, that employee may be able to seek temporary partial disability benefits.

Have retail sector injuries surpassed other industries?

With stores gearing up for a big customer turnout for holiday and post holiday shopping, it is an unfortunate truth that retailers prioritize inventory over worker safety. As a result, the very workers who keep stores hazard free for guests are routinely working in unsafe environments. This is probably why the illness and injury rate for retail workers was higher than the construction site industry in 2016.

According to a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rate for workplace injuries and illnesses for retail workers in 2016 was 3.3 per 100 full-time workers. The most common injury experienced was musculoskeletal disorders, with overexertion and slips, trips and falls coming in as the second and third causes. In fact, there was an increase in the number of slips and falls between 2009 and 2014.

How to prove an injury you suffered happened while at work

When you suffer an injury at work, one of the main requirements you will need to explain on your claim is that the injury or ailment had occurred while on the job. Typically, this is not an issue, but you will want strong evidence of your injury claim if it is challenged or if your employer decides to dispute your claim to avoid financial responsibility.

To protect yourself and to make sure your claim has the best evidence possible if it is challenged or denied, you should keep detailed information and records of your injury and treatment. Here is what you will want to collect and keep at the ready.

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