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An overview of Illinois workers' compensation system

All employed workers in Illinois are covered by the state's workers compensation system, but very few members of this group understands how the system works. While the workers' compensation system is complex and often requires legal assistance, the basic structure of the system can be grasped by almost anyone.

Workers' compensation is intended to provide medical coverage and income replacement for anyone who has suffered a job-related injury or illness. The injured worker is entitled to receive the specified benefits even if he or she was partially or totally at fault for the injury. Anyone who suffers a work-related injury must notify the employer within 45 days of the injury or onset of the illness. If the employer denies the claim, the employee can file a claim for benefits with the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission within three years of the occurrence of the injury or onset of the disease.

Workers' compensation benefits are defined by statute. An injury worker is entitled receive all medical care reasonably required to cure or relieve the employee of the effects of the injury. Worker who are disabled by their injuries can receive payment for lost wages; this provision applies to workers who suffer temporary total disability, temporary partial disability, permanent partial disability and total permanent disability are entitled to receive benefits that will reimburse them for lost wages. Workers who suffer permanent total disability are also eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, a federal program administered by the Social Security Administration. The family of a worker who is killed on the job may recover survivors' benefits. Employers with one or more employees are required to purchase workers' compensation insurance that will provide coverage to injured employees.

The system also provides various appellate procedures for employees whose claims are denied. The advice of an experienced worker's compensation attorney can be essential to recovering benefits if an appeal becomes necessary.

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