We have all seen the signs at worksites: “__ days since last work-related injury”. Maintaining such records publicly shows a commitment to safety as well as a willingness to be judged in the court of public opinion. Certainly, business owners understand that consumers and potential employees will be affected by the injury statistics displayed, for better or worse.
Some worksites and careers are more hazardous than others. It is difficult to imagine a “Days Since Last Injury” sign at a coffee shop or florist. Still, nearly every work environment has the potential for injury. The overt risks are obvious: heavy machinery, hazardous materials, heights, extreme heat or cold, etc. These types of workplaces usually have very strict safety procedures and extensive training to minimize risk. But what of a relatively harmless worksite?
Returning to our example of the coffee shop, upon closer inspection, we see that this seemingly innocuous location does include grinders, steam wands, scalding-hot liquids, kitchen knives, potentially slippery floors, and hot ovens. Nearly any worksite, when subjected to a thorough inspection, will yield significant hazard(s). In addition to these types of hazards are less obvious risks such as those injuries caused over time by repetitive motion and the sedentary nature of so much of modern work.
This is not a call for panic or paranoia about a constant threat of injury at work. In fact, it is clear that our society minimizes these risks pretty well, relatively speaking. What is important is the recognition that workers’ compensation is relevant to all workers, as any employee can potentially become injured on the job.
When an injury does occur, workers’ compensation laws come into play, defining the responsibilities of employer and employee. Workers’ compensation laws vary from state to state. Generally speaking, workers’ compensation laws are designed to benefit both the employer and employee. The employee receives compensation for the on-the-job injury. The employer is granted immunity from legal action by the employee. Because compensation amounts are predetermined, the need for formal litigation is bypassed. As an employee, regardless of the state in which you work, you can expect that workers’ compensation laws will address:
1) Payments for any temporary or permanent disability caused by your injuries
2) Payments each week while you are injured and unable to work
3) Compensation for medical expenses
It has been noted that Workers’ Compensation laws attempt to provide a framework for resolving work-related injury cases without litigation. This is not to say that the counsel of an experienced Chicago workers’ compensation attorney is not essential for the success of your case. Workers’ Compensation has its own web of responsibility, precedent, and regulation best navigated by someone with experience and expertise.
A visit to your state’s government website will provide information about specific rules and proceedings. For information regarding workers’ compensation in Chicago and Illinois, visit the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission.
Knowing what to do immediately after an injury at work is as important as knowing what to do after an auto accident. If you are injured at work, follow these steps:
1) Report the injury to your employer. Employers should have a procedure in place for documenting a work-related injury. Failing to report injuries when they happen – particularly when they initially seem minor but later become serious – is one of the most common reasons for a failure to receive workman’s compensation.
2) Follow through with your employer and their insurance company. This is standard procedure to evaluate any compensation to which you are entitled.
3) Assess your own satisfaction with any compensation offers made. If you are not satisfied, you may file a claim with your state’s Industrial Commission, the court system that deals with workmen’s compensation claims.
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury, illness or death related to the workplace, call VanDerGinst Law at 1-866-843-7367 or click here for the online contact form. The initial consultation is free of charge. If we agree to handle your injury case, we will work on a contingency fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if, and when, there is a money recovery for you. In many cases a lawsuit must be filed before an applicable expiration date, known as a statute of limitations. So please call right away to ensure that you do not waive your right to possible compensation.