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What Cops Should Know About Workers’ Compensation in Illinois

John Lesaganich Oct. 1, 2018

Police officers have one of the most physically tasking jobs in the workforce. They constantly risk their lives taking on criminals and could critically injure themselves in the middle of a shootout, car chase or rescue. Unlike most other jobs, they do not have the benefit of predictability when it comes to their shifts.

Because of these elements, filing a claim for workers’ compensation is different than other jobs. In Illinois, not only does it vary on what type of injury you have, but also where you get the injury. Officers should familiarize themselves with the state’s policies to see if their condition is eligible for coverage.

Chicago Cops Need to Apply Elsewhere

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act is fairly accessible to everyone, including police officers. The state requires all local employers to have insurance that can cover various work injuries regardless of who’s fault it was. The process is pretty straightforward too. All you need to do is inform your employer within 45 days after you find out about your injury or file a claim within 3 years to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission if your employer denies you.

However, not everyone is eligible for the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. The state bans any officers or firefighters in cities with over 500,000 people for filing a claim with the act. Currently, Chicago is the only city in Illinois that has to abide by those laws. While officers in other cities like Peoria can rest easy knowing the state’s compensation act will help them with an injury, those stationed in Chicago should look elsewhere to ensure coverage in an emergency.

Not All Injuries Have to Be Physical

Employees apply for workers’ compensation to get coverage for severe injuries that prevent them from working at their jobs. When it comes to police officers, the state recognizes that you do not need a bullet wound or sprained ankle to seek financial aid. Many officers suffer from PTSD from all the traumatic experiences they have on the job. Whether it comes from killing someone, carrying a dead body or witnessing the gruesome results of a psychopath, cops have to witness and process events that no human should ever see.

This can be a difficult area to receive compensation for as the state is often used to treating broken bones or head trauma. They are also less likely to grant it if the PTSD stems from workplace drama rather than something more physical. However, many officers have been able to prove that they need time to mentally heal before heading back out into the field. A cop can struggle with physically performing their tasks if their mental fortitude is wavering.

As injuries can come in multiple forms for an officer, a workers’ compensation attorney may be required to help determine their eligibility for injury coverage.