Getting injured at work can be depressing and financially-debilitating. But the good news is, you can file a workers’ compensation claim. This claim may cover hospitalization bills, lost wages, and rehabilitation costs for employees who got injured or become ill “in the course and scope” of their job.
If you’re in this situation currently, know that you have to file your claim within the statute of limitations for workers’ compensation in Illinois. If you have missed the deadline for reasons like you’re unaware of the filing deadline or you initially do not see the necessity to file a claim, a workers’ compensation lawyer can help you determine what applies to your situation.
In this article, we will explain what the statute of limitations is, the time frame for filing, exceptions to the deadline, and the importance of securing your benefits.
Understanding the Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations for filing a workers’ compensation claim in Illinois is three years from the date of the injury or two years from the last payment of compensation, whichever is later.
Once the time period expires and you fail to file your claim within the specified time frame may result in your claim being time-barred, meaning you’ll be unable to receive any benefits for your work-related injury. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to initiate the claims process as soon as possible to avoid any potential complications.
It is also highly recommended to report your injury to your employer immediately after it occurs. This not only helps establish the date of the injury but also make sure that your employer is aware of the incident and can take appropriate action. Remember to document all relevant details, such as the date, time, and circumstances of the injury, as well as any witnesses present.
Time Frame for Filing a Claim
As mentioned, you have a limited period to initiate your claim, which is generally within three years from the date of your work-related injury or accident. This time frame is known as the statute of limitations for workers’ compensation claims.
The clock starts ticking from the date of your injury or accident, not from the date you discover the injury or become aware of your rights. It’s in your best interest to act promptly and file your claim as soon as possible. Waiting too long to file your claim could jeopardize your chances of receiving the benefits you’re entitled to.
Exceptions to the Deadline
Exceptions to the deadline may apply in certain circumstances, allowing you to file your workers’ compensation claim in Illinois after the general three-year time frame has expired. While the statute of limitations is typically three years from the date of the injury or the last payment of compensation, there are situations where you may still have a chance to pursue your claim.
One exception is the discovery rule. This means that if you weren’t aware of your injury or the connection between your injury and your job until after the deadline passed, you may still be able to file a claim. Although you have to prove that you had no knowledge of the injury and that you exercised reasonable diligence in discovering it.
Another exception is for injuries caused by occupational diseases. In these cases, the statute of limitations begins when you first become aware of the disease and its connection to your work. This can be a longer period of time than the general three-year deadline.
It’s also worth noting that if you were under the age of 18 when the injury occurred, the statute of limitations may be extended.
If your employer failed to provide you with the required notice about the statute of limitations, you may also have grounds for an exception. Consultation with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can determine if any exceptions apply to your specific situation and if you meet all necessary requirements for filing your claim.
Securing Your Workers’ Compensation Benefits
To receive the workers’ compensation benefits you’re entitled to, take proactive steps to secure your claim. Here are some measures you should follow to protect your rights and have a smoother process.
- Report your injury to your employer as soon as possible. Delaying the reporting may weaken your claim and give rise to suspicions of fraud. Provide detailed information about the incident, including the date, time, and location of the accident, as well as any witnesses present. Make sure to keep a record of this communication for future reference.
- Seek medical attention. Obtain medical treatment from an authorized healthcare provider and follow their recommended treatment plan. Document all medical expenses, including prescriptions, therapy sessions, and any other related costs. These records will serve as evidence of the extent of your injuries and the expenses incurred.
- Gather evidence that supports your claim. Take photographs of the accident scene, your injuries, and any hazardous conditions that may have contributed to the incident. Obtain witness statements, if possible, and keep any relevant documents, such as incident reports or safety violation records.
- Consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who can guide you through the process and protect your interests. They’ll ensure your claim is properly filed, advocate for your rights during negotiations, and represent you in any legal proceedings if necessary.
If you have been injured at work in Illinois, you have to be aware of the statute of limitations for filing a workers’ compensation claim. Acting promptly and within the time frame can help you successfully secure your benefits.
Don’t delay, make sure to consult with an experienced attorney to protect your rights and guide you throughout the complex process of obtaining the compensation you deserve.