Workers who suffer workplace injuries must file timely claims with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission or risk forfeiting their rights to obtain compensation. Following an occupational accident or exposure, employees who suffer injuries or develop serious illnesses may receive benefits, including coverage of their associated medical expenses and partial wage replacement. Should their employers dispute their injuries or illnesses and refuse to pay or stop the payment of workers’ compensation benefits, injured employees may take the matter to the state commission for a decision.
The Statute of Limitations for Work-Related Injuries
Employees who suffer injuries on the job have a set time period in which they may file a claim for benefits with the WCC. Under most circumstances, injured workers who have not received any compensation benefits from their employers must act within three years of the dates when their accidents occurred. Workers who have received some benefits for their injuries, but who may dispute the amounts, types, or other aspects of their benefit awards, have two years from the date of their last compensation payment to file a claim with the WCC.
The Employer Notification Requirement
To file a workers’ compensation claim, injured workers must first provide notice of the injury to their employers. Such notifications must take place as soon as possible, but no more than 45 days after the workplace accident occurred. In the case of occupational diseases, which may not have a specific incident date, employees must notify their employers of their conditions as soon as is practicable after receiving their diagnoses. Those workers who suffer injuries due to radiological exposure must inform their employers they suspect or know they received excessive doses of radiation within 90 days.
The Exception to the Rule
The statute of limitations for workers’ compensation includes provisions for certain conditions, which extend the time limits for filing claims. Some work-related injuries or illnesses take weeks, months, or years to manifest after the initial exposure, incident, or accident occurred. For example, people may not begin to exhibit the symptoms of asbestosis for between 10 and 40 years after inhaling asbestos fibers in the workplace. The state’s workers’ compensation laws account for such situations and allow up to 25 years after employees’ final employment dates in hazardous environments to file claims for asbestosis, pneumoconiosis, or other similar conditions resulting from asbestos or radiological exposure on the job.