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When employees are a part of a labor union, they have additional worker protections, improved benefits, better workplace safety, and many other advantages. Labor union members who are injured at their work have the same options for compensation as other employees, such as workers’ compensation and, occasionally, personal injury benefits. A Madison County labor union injury lawyer can help clarify which benefits and avenues of compensation may be available to you.
In Illinois, nearly all employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, and a workers’ comp claim provides injured employees with financial certainty as they recover.
If you are a member of a labor union who has been injured or discovered a developmental condition due to your work, you likely have additional protections and benefits under your labor union. However, you must be prepared to take specific steps to obtain those benefits and ensure that you do not do anything to jeopardize your workers’ compensation claim. A Madison County labor union injury lawyer understands how these laws and policies interact, and they can help you build a more successful claim.
The purpose of workers’ compensation insurance is to protect both employers and employees. Without workers’ compensation insurance, employers could be held civilly liable for employee injuries suffered on their worksite.
All employees, union or non-union, have rights and protections under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. Covered employees who are injured on the worksite, or while completing job duties offsite, are eligible for workers’ compensation. These benefits cover medical bills, a portion of lost income, and other damages.
At-work injuries are covered, even if they were not directly caused by the employee’s job duties, although injuries that result from the employee’s misconduct or criminal activities are not covered. Workers’ compensation covers:
Each industry will be impacted differently by its own labor union. Labor unions are able to harness their bargaining power by forcing employers, companies, and policymakers to work with a collective of employees in an industry rather than individual workers. Employees then have more leverage to change labor laws and company policy so that it protects employee rights and gives them the benefits and protections they need.
These changes, especially when made into state or federal statutes, can benefit union and non-union employees. Labor unions have worked to improve workers’ compensation benefits across many industries by ensuring that the benefits in claims rise to match inflation. Labor unions also bargain for effective and competent medical care for injured employees. Additionally, they advocate for safer and more protected worksites, which may lower the need for workers’ compensation benefits.
There are certain steps that all employees must take to protect their rights after sustaining or discovering an injury or condition. Some members of labor unions may believe that all they must do to protect themselves is to inform their labor union, but it’s important to take care that all guidelines in a collective bargaining agreement are met. Mistakes could result in the denial of benefits.
If you were in a workplace accident and need urgent medical care, that is your priority. It is important for both your own physical health and the success of a workers’ compensation claim. Even if you were in an accident and you don’t think you were injured, it is important to get medical care. Certain injuries, like traumatic brain injuries, may not be immediately obvious and require professional diagnosis.
It’s important that employees comply with the care and treatment plan they are given by a medical professional. Failing to do so can hurt your claim.
When receiving medical care, it is important to obtain documentation of the visit. This can provide proof of a professional diagnosis of your injury and its severity. It also proves that it required medical attention. Documentation can also show that there was a connection between your work and the injury.
If you do not need emergency care, you may want to report to your employer and union representative prior to receiving medical care. Your employer can also inform you of a provider you can receive care from. Employees who are injured must receive a diagnosis from an approved list of medical providers. If an employer does not provide this list, or the medical provider does not give satisfactory care, the employee can select their own healthcare provider.
When you are a member of a labor union, you should report an injury or accident to both your employer and your union representative.
You are required under state law to inform an employer of an accident at work within 45 days of its occurrence. If you fail to do this, your workers’ compensation claim will be denied. If you have suffered a work-related injury that is the result of exposure or another developmental injury, you must inform your employer as soon as you are made aware of the illness or condition.
Although it is not required, it is incredibly important to protect your employee rights by informing your union representative of the accident and/or injury.
When providing notice to both parties, oral notice is typical. However, it can be beneficial to provide written notice. If only oral notice is given, and an employer claims that they were not given notice, it can make claiming damages more complicated.
Union members typically have more protection and support than non-union employees. However, workers’ compensation is still not an automatic right. Employees must still file for these benefits. Labor unions protect employee rights and focus on collective employee rights.
Although unions provide support to individual employees, it can be helpful to your personal interests to work with an experienced attorney. When you hire an attorney who has experience with workers’ compensation claims and how they intersect with union guidelines, you can feel certain that your attorney is using this knowledge to your benefit.
In some situations, you want to file an application for the adjustment of your claim. This may be needed if the claim is denied and you need to appeal the decision. It may also be needed if the scope of your damages is more severe than you initially calculated. You may have calculated damages without the help of an attorney, or there may be new injuries and complications that were not foreseen in the initial application. An attorney can help you decide if an adjustment of your claim would be beneficial.
Reporting an accident to an employer within 45 days is only one deadline in a workers’ compensation case. You must file the workers’ compensation claim within 3 years from the date an accident or injury occurred. If you are dealing with a developmental condition, you have 3 years from the date you discovered the injury or illness. Simply informing your employer of an injury does not begin a workers’ compensation claim, so it’s important to take the right steps.
Although 3 years may seem like a significant time, you should not delay filing your claim. If too much time passes, important evidence could be more difficult to find. Filing as soon as possible also gives your attorney the time needed to:
Even with the support of a labor union, it can ease your stress and make your claim more likely to succeed when you work with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. You are also more likely to maximize the benefits and compensation that you can earn from a claim with legal support.
When dealing with pain from an injury or illness, or learning how to adapt to a disability, it can be overwhelming to try to manage a workers’ compensation claim. Unfortunately, these claims need to be handled promptly. An attorney can help by allowing you to focus on recovery and rehabilitation while they manage legal deadlines, union guidelines, and the requirements of a claim.
An attorney can also determine if there are other options available for you to earn compensation. Certain industries have additional benefits or routes of compensation when employees are injured in the workplace. Additionally, depending on the unique circumstances of your injury or condition, you may be able to file a personal injury claim. An attorney can help you manage different types of claims or benefits requests.
If a claim or request is denied, your attorney can help you navigate the appeals process. If your employer or their workers’ compensation insurance provider engages in fraudulent actions to deny your claim, or retaliates against you for filing, your attorney can protect your rights.
The compensation you could receive in your workers’ compensation claim depends on many factors. These include:
The damages covered in a workers’ compensation claim could include:
These benefits exist to protect employees and their families from financial instability and hardship when an employee is injured or killed on the job.
The following are typical disability benefits in workers’ compensation claims:
In rare cases, an injured employee can file a personal injury claim as well as a workers’ compensation claim. If a non-employer third party was responsible for the accident or condition you suffer from, you can hold them liable. The manufacturer and distributor of a faulty or defective product may be at fault. If a coworker is negligent, they could be held liable. If you are involved in a car accident while completing job duties, and it was the other driver’s fault, you can file a civil claim against them.
Workers’ compensation claims, even for union members, only cover partial wages and earning capacity. A personal injury claim could cover full wages and can also recover noneconomic damages, like physical pain and mental trauma.
We are proud to serve the community in Madison County, and our team stands up for employee rights to financial stability and compensation. Our firm has worked on personal injury and workers’ compensation claims, and we understand the state, federal, and local impact of these laws and union memberships.
If you are unsure how your labor union agreement alters your workers’ compensation benefits and want legal support throughout the filing process, contact Joshua R. Evans, Attorney at Law.