Even with all possible safety precautions in place, workplace injuries are quite common. According to reports by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2020 saw over 1,176,000 nonfatal injuries and illnesses in the workplace nationally. Some types of workplace injuries are minor, while some can result in permanent disability. This variation can make it difficult to find answers after you’ve been injured on the job.
It’s normal to have plenty of questions after a workplace injury and to wonder about your next steps. Assess your options with a workplace injury attorney at Nessler & Associates.
What Qualifies as a Workplace Injury?
In the United States, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration defines a work-related injury or occupational injury as any kind of personal injury resulting from the work environment. They can occur from workplace accidents, being exposed to a hazardous substance, or performing job duties.
Injuries that occur while using work equipment are considered work injuries. In 2020, of all injuries involving days away from work, 196,140 resulted from contact with objects or equipment like heavy machinery, and 41,010 resulted from transportation accidents, including motor vehicle accidents.
However, you don’t need to be injured by an object to experience a workplace injury. Slips, trips, and falls made up 211,640 occupational injuries in 2020, making them a common workplace injury.
A workplace injury, called a bodily reaction, is also considered an injury, such as pulling or tearing a muscle while performing a repetitive motion.
Your Options After a Workplace Injury
After a workplace injury, you may wonder if you should return to work or are eligible for workers’ compensation. Since your options depend on the severity of your injury and the nature of your job, consult with a workplace injury attorney to explore the next steps.
File a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Someone seriously injured on the job may be eligible for workers’ compensation. In Illinois, workers’ compensation covers:
Medical treatment for the injury, including rehabilitation treatment
Temporary disability benefits, where you are compensated for time unable to work at full capacity
Permanent disability benefits, where you are compensated for an injury that left you permanently disabled (even if you are still able to work)
Getting workers’ comp requires that you follow specific procedures to report your injury and obtain treatment. A workplace accident attorney can walk you through the process or fight a denied claim.
Returning to Work
If your injuries aren’t serious or don’t affect your ability to do your job, your doctor may clear you to return to work with no restrictions. Your medical treatment will be covered by any workers’ compensation you may receive, but you likely won’t receive other benefits like payment for lost wages.
Returning with Partial Duties
In some cases, your doctor may clear you to return to work but not perform all of the same tasks you did before. For example, you might not be allowed to lift heavy objects or operate heavy machinery.
If you’re cleared for light-duty work but are being paid less than before, you may be able to receive temporary partial disability (TPD). TPD compensates you for ⅔ of the difference between your current wage and the wages you would have received from your previous work.
Taking Time Off Work
Your doctor may advise you to take time off work to recover, depending on what you do for work and the type of injury you receive. Should your injury prevent you from working for three or more days, you may receive temporary total disability (TTD) payments when you take off work. TTD payments equal ⅔ of your typical wages and will last until you are cleared to return to work.
Filing for Disability
If your injury has left you unable to work for an extended period, you may be eligible for disability benefits. While Illinois does not offer disability benefits through the state, Federal Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is available to anyone who cannot work for at least a year due to a disability and has worked for several years. (The required number of years varies depending on your age.)
Long-term disability insurance can also provide financial support if your injury or disability keeps you from working. You may have an individual policy, or your job may offer disability insurance as a benefit.
Filing a Third-Party Personal Injury Suit
In most cases, you can’t sue your employer for a workplace injury. However, if your injury results from the actions or negligence of a third party, like an equipment manufacturer or contracted employer, you may be able to hold them liable for your injuries by filing a personal injury suit. For example, if you were injured by defective equipment, you could file a claim against the equipment manufacturer.
Rarely, you might be able to sue an employer if they break the law by not carrying workers’ compensation or intentionally set out to cause you injury.
Review Your Options with Nessler & Associates
Being injured at work can throw your life into disarray. You may have questions about what’s next, suspect you’ve been short-changed by workers’ compensation, or be battling your insurance company for disability benefits. In this time of uncertainty, turn to Nessler & Associates for help.
Our team of attorneys understands Illinois’ personal injury laws, including workplace accidents, workers’ compensation, and long-term disability insurance. Since workplace injuries are financially challenging, we take cases on contingency: you won’t owe us anything unless we win your case.