One of the most common questions that we receive from our clients is regarding what is required when it comes to reporting a work accident or injury to their employer. Although the requirements of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act are relatively lax with regard to what qualifies as legally sufficient notice, it is often not a good idea to merely do the bare minimum when it comes to this crucial component of a work comp case. Keep reading to learn more from one of the best work comp attorneys in Chicago, Brent Eames, about how to handle giving your employer proper notice of a work accident.
Statutorily, if you will be seeking workers’ compensation benefits in Illinois, you are required to notify your employer if you suffer an injury as a result of a work accident. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act requires that an injured worker notify their employer within 45 days of suffering a work accident. This rule is intended to provide the employer with a sufficient opportunity to investigate the circumstances of the accident, and to follow all company rules and procedures, which may include requiring the injured worker to submit to a drug or alcohol test. If an employee cannot prove based upon the greater weight of the evidence that they notified their employer of the work accident within 45 days of the date of accident, then the claim will be barred as a matter of law due to the failure to provide timely notice of the accident. So, the most important rule to remember is that you MUST at a minimum notify your employer orally of your work injury within 45 days of suffering the accident. However, often times, the bare minimum is not the prudent move to make when it comes to something as important as reporting your work accident.
The vast majority of employers will have specific department rules and forms pertaining to work injuries. If you do not follow your department’s rules and guidelines, no matter what the law says about the legal sufficiency of notice, you may be opening the door for your employer to question your work accident and be skeptical of your case. This is especially true if you suffered prior work accidents and reported all of those accidents the correct way using the correct procedures. Your case will definitely be off to a rocky start if the circumstances deviate from what your employer considers to be normal. So, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the policies and procedures of your department to avoid any unnecessary second-guessing and disputes at the outset of your case.
Further, although oral notice is legally sufficient under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, it is very standard for an employer to require that a written accident or incident report be filled out whenever there is an injury. Commonly, the form that is used is known as FORM 45. Some likely questions you will probably be required to answer include the identities of any witnesses; the specific circumstances of how the accident occurred; and a description of the injuries that you suffered. Providing written notice of your work accident to your employer is generally a good thing, because this written proof will make it impossible for your employer to argue that they did not receive notice of the accident within the statutory timeframe. Further, reporting your accident in writing sends a message to everyone involved that the accident is significant enough to require written documentation immediately. If you do not timely provide a written report of the accident, you may find yourself having to face questions about how hurt you initially felt at the time of your injury given that you did not believe a written report would be required.
If you are asked to describe the injuries that you suffered, at this point in the process, it is important to be honest, accurate, and not downplay your injuries. At this early stage in the proceedings, you do not know how hurt you will ultimately be. Even if you think you are OK, it is better to be cautious and not minimize the nature and extent of your injury in case your adrenaline wears off, and you are feeling much worse than you initially thought.
If possible, you should attempt to obtain a copy of the written accident report for your own records. Although it is unfortunate, it is not unheard of that these reports can become “lost” or “misplaced” along the way during a contested work comp case. So, retaining a copy for your own records will help both you and your attorneys moving forward.
Any questions about your work accident or how to properly report your injury? Contact a best Work Comp Attorney in Chicago at Eames Law Group, Ltd. to discuss your rights. Attorney Brent Eames has consistently been recognized as among the best attorneys in Illinois related to his work as a lawyer for injured firefighters and a lawyer for injured police officers.
The Eames Law Group is an experienced law firm that guides people who have suffered serious personal injuries and work accidents. They help residents of Illinois gain their lives back after accidents, by managing medical bills and financial setbacks. Brent Eames is a Chicago Work Comp Lawyer who will help people obtain the appropriate compensation and medical assistance after suffering an injury. For more information, contact us to meet with the Eames Law Group and learn about the legal services they offer.