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Do I need an attorney if I’ve suffered a workplace accident?

The short answer is no. The state of Illinois requires every business with at least one employee to maintain workers' compensation insurance. If you are injured at your job, you will likely receive workers' compensation payments in most situations.

However, it is important to know that most employers purchase workers' compensation policies from insurance companies. Those insurers make their money by refusing to pay out money for claims. If your claim is challenged, you may have to attend hearings and present your case before the arbitrator. Attorneys representing the employer's insurance company will likely also be in attendance at those hearings. You may find it extremely beneficial to have legal representation during this process

If you have been injured at work, your first step should be to seek medical attention and then notify your employer of the accident within 45 days of the incident. You can do this either verbally or by written notice.

Depending on the severity of your injury, your employer will likely already know about your accident, but it is still your responsibility to make them aware of it as soon as possible. Next, you should file your claim with the Illinois Worker's Compensation Commission. Your case will then be assigned to an arbitrator who will act as a judge between you and your employer.

If you are an Illinois worker injured in a workplace accident, you should know that you may also have other legal options available to you in addition to your workers' compensation claim. Depending on the circumstances of how you were injured, it may be also possible to sue third parties that may have helped contribute to your injuries.

Source: State of Illinois-Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission, "Handbook on Workers' Compensation and Occupational Diseases" Oct. 03, 2014

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