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contractorEven though all employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, not all those who work for that employer are covered. Technically, only true employees are eligible for coverage under workers’ compensation, but many companies also employ a variety of other workers, such as independent contractors. However, independent contractors are not eligible to receive benefits through workers’ compensation, even if they are injured while working. Some work injuries can be serious and require extensive medical care and time off from work, placing unnecessary stress on you and your family. If you have been injured as an independent contractor and your employer has stated that you are ineligible for workers’ compensation benefits, an Illinois attorney can help.

Employee Misclassification is Common

Even though both independent contractors and employees work for an employer, there are differences in their employment status and benefits. Though there are federal laws to distinguish an employee from an independent contractor, the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission considers all workers to have an employment relationship with their employer unless otherwise stated. Misclassifying workers is a common reason why a workers’ compensation claim can be denied by your employer. Misclassifying workers allows employers to avoid paying payroll and unemployment taxes on that worker’s earnings, but it also means the employer can face penalties if they willfully misclassify an employee.

Am I an Employee or an Independent Contractor?

The criteria that the Workers’ Compensation Commission uses to determine whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor is slightly different than the criteria that the federal government uses. According to the Commission, a person is not an independent contractor unless that person:

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work-injuryNobody plans on getting injured — that is why we call it an accident. However, getting hurt at work can result in rather difficult circumstances for you and your family. Not only can it cause you physical maladies, but taking time off of work can also cause financial distress for your family. Fortunately, workers’ compensation exists to help ease some of the burden that is brought on by getting injured at work. However, workers’ compensation benefits are not automatic. Before you can begin to claim compensation, you must first file for your benefits with the state. Even if your injury happened at work, not all workers’ compensation claims will be accepted. Though it can be frustrating, there are multiple reasons why your workers’ compensation claim might be denied.

Understanding the Reasons for Denial

Workers’ compensation was created with the intention of providing financial and vocational support to those who have been injured at work. As such, the primary objective of the program is to help people, which is why many claims are accepted without issue. However, some claims may be challenged by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. Here are some of the most common reasons why your Illinois workers’ compensation claim may have been denied:

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works compEmployers and employees alike are responsible for taking safety precautions to prevent workplace accidents. However, even when all necessary measures are taken, injuries can still occur. Depending on the environment and job duties, there are various ways in which a worker can suffer a disfiguring injury while on the job. Disfigurement can affect many parts of the body, and it can lead to long-lasting scars as well as extensive rehabilitation. In many cases, Illinois workers are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if they are disfigured at work.

Disfigurement Defined Per Illinois Law

According to the Illinois Supreme Court, disfigurement is defined as an impairment of a person’s appearance that is unusual. For instance, it can impact an individual’s beauty or the symmetry of his or her face or body. Under Illinois law, to be eligible for workers’ compensation, a disfigurement must be severe and permanent. In addition, it must be located on a visual part of the body, like the face, head, neck, hand, arm, or lower leg. However, a disfiguring injury to the rest of the body may not be eligible for compensation. It is important to note that if an accident caused the loss of a limb, the worker may not claim both disability and disfigurement benefits for that same body part.

Dangers on the Job

Working in certain fields or industries can increase the likelihood of accidents due to potential dangers. For example, some factory and construction jobs may involve operating large and heavy equipment. If a machine part malfunctions, an employee could get their hand stuck in it, resulting in deep cuts or lacerations. When toxic substances such as acid come in contact with a person, it can burn the skin. Similarly, explosions or electrocutions can cause third-degree burns or nerve damage. Erecting high-rise buildings may require workers to perform their duties using scaffolding, harnesses, or ladders. Falling from these items can cause serious head trauma or broken bones.
A few of the most common types of accidents that could result in disfigurement include:

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Scaffolding IL works comp lawyer, Illinois work injury attorney is defined as a temporary structure on the outside of a building, typically made out of wooden planks and metal poles, used by workers while constructing, repairing, or cleaning the building. Scaffolding accidents mainly involve several different factors, such as people falling off of them, improper operating procedures, weather conditions, and equipment failure. Constructions workers, painters, and window washers routinely utilize scaffolding to do their jobs. If the scaffolding is not properly supported or collapses, workers on or around the scaffolding are at risk of serious to even fatal injuries . In some cases, injured employees may be able to recover damages through a workers’ compensation claim.

Frequent Injuries Involved with Scaffolding

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 2.3 million construction workers use scaffolds to perform some of the duties. Federal statistics show that approximately 35 percent of construction industry fatalities are due to falls. Falls from scaffolds are generally from a significant height. Additionally, being hit by tools falling from scaffolds can also cause severe injuries, including:

  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Spinal cord damage (paralysis)
  • Internal bleeding
  • Broken or fractured bones
  • Lacerations (deep cuts)

Common Causes of Construction Site Accidents

Illinois workers who perform their jobs outside are often at the mercy of the environmental elements. Although summer may be an ideal time for erecting buildings, a lot of work can still be done throughout all four seasons. However, if employees are going to be spending a significant amount of time on scaffolding, contractors, vendors, or construction site supervisors should have a strict set of standards in place to prevent accidents and injuries. For instance, not allowing scaffolding work to take place in high winds or blinding snowstorms since that can cause ropes or cables to come loose or break.

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IL injury attorney, Illinois workers comp lawyer, The year 2020 will always be remembered for the COVID-19 global pandemic. Government and health officials issued executive orders limiting gatherings, requiring masks to be worn, and enforcing social distancing in public places. In addition, many non-essential businesses such as bars, restaurants, movie theaters, salons, and casinos were closed to keep people safe and healthy. However, some employees were allowed to work remotely from home. Despite state and local efforts to stop it, the highly contagious virus spread throughout the country, resulting in approximately 500,000 deaths. An effective and safe COVID-19 vaccine was recently approved, which is a critical component in reducing coronavirus-related hospitalizations and deaths. With many workers returning to office buildings now, employees may be required to get vaccinated before returning to work. It is important to understand how COVID-19 and vaccine-related illnesses impact workers’ compensation claims.

Phase IB

In January, Phase 1B began in Illinois, allowing frontline essential workers and residents 65 and older to get the vaccine. Frontline workers include those who carry a higher risk of COVID-19 exposure because of their work duties, often because they are unable to work from home, or they have to socially distance in order to perform their job duties. This includes first responders and healthcare workers, as well as those in the following fields and industries: K-12 education, food and agriculture, manufacturing, corrections officers and inmates, postal, public transit, grocery stores, and daycare centers.

House Bill 2455

Legislation signed into law provides worker compensation benefits for those essential workers who contract COVID-19 while on the job under specific conditions. Governor J.B. Pritzker signed H.B. 2455 into law, which provides death benefits for first responders who were infected with COVID-19 on duty and also revises state code to expand unemployment benefits and enhance sick pay and leave for workers who contract the virus. However, under the bill, employers can refute claims under certain conditions:

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