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Workers-Comp-Care-Chicago-Lawyer If you are injured in the course of your work in Illinois, you are likely entitled to workers’ compensation benefits that cover the costs of your medical care. However, there are important steps that you will need to follow to ensure that you receive those benefits. One of those steps is ensuring that you receive treatment from an approved provider. Your choice of provider may depend on your employer, and it is important to understand how this process works.

Choosing a Care Provider

As soon as you are injured or you become aware of a work-related injury, it is important to notify your employer. If you require emergency care, your employer should arrange for it and cover the costs. Many work-related injuries require ongoing care, however, and this is where the choice of a provider comes in.

Many Illinois employers now have a Preferred Provider Program (PPP) that includes a list of health care providers who are approved to treat employees’ work-related injuries. Your employer must notify you in writing if they have a PPP, and if so, you will need to choose your care providers from within the program. If you opt-out of the PPP in writing, or if your employer does not have a PPP, you are able to select a provider of your choice. In this case, it is important to let the provider know that you have a work-related injury so that you are not billed directly for your treatment.

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Occupational-Risk-Attorney-Oak_Brook Work-related injuries are common in Illinois and throughout the U.S., especially for employees who perform extensive physical labor or who work with heavy machinery and equipment. Thanks to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act , many injured workers qualify for benefits that cover their medical care and some of their lost wages. Employees who develop or contract a disease or illness in the course of their work may also be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, though these cases are often more complicated.

Occupations With High Incidences of Work-Related Illness

Occupational diseases tend to develop after prolonged and repeated exposure to a hazardous condition, rather than a one-time event. Some occupations in which occupational diseases are more common include:

  • Construction and manufacturing – Workers in these occupations may be exposed to a variety of risks, including hazardous materials like asbestos, chemicals used in the manufacturing process, and dangerous particles in the air. These hazards can lead to skin diseases, respiratory conditions, and certain types of cancer.
  • Firefighting – Firefighters are at risk of respiratory conditions due to smoke and ash inhalation.
  • Mining – Workers in the mining industry, especially coal miners, are also exposed to the risk of respiratory disease from the inhalation of harmful particles.
  • Agriculture – Farm workers may develop lung conditions from inhaling grain dust and other particles, or other diseases due to exposure to chemicals in fertilizers and pesticides.
  • Health care – Doctors, nurses, EMTs , and other health care providers may be exposed to infectious airborne or bloodborne pathogens that may cause diseases like COVID-19, hepatitis, and AIDS.

Recovering Compensation

According to Illinois law, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if you have a work-related disease or illness. However, you will need to be able to demonstrate that your condition meets certain criteria. Namely, the disease must have arisen in the course of your work, or have been aggravated by your work to the point of disablement. Generally, this means you will need to establish a causal connection between some hazard present in your work and the specific condition you have contracted or developed.

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Workers-Comp-Attorney-Cook-County-min Of the different types of conditions that can affect a person’s ability to work, issues affecting the back and spinal cord can be some of the most debilitating. Back injuries can be very painful, and they can restrict a person’s ability to stand for an extended period of time and pick up or carry objects. In serious cases, a spinal cord injury may lead to paralysis in different parts of the body, which may cause a person to be permanently disabled. People who have suffered back injuries related to their work will want to determine whether they qualify for workers’ compensation , which will allow them to receive benefits that will address their medical expenses and cover some of the income lost due to a disability.

Common Workplace Back and Spine Injuries

Serious back injuries or health conditions that affect the back and spine may include:

  • Slipped or herniated discs – Excessive strain on the back can cause the discs between the vertebrae in the spine to tear or rupture. This can put pressure on the nerves in the spinal cord, causing pain and restricting a person’s range of movement.
  • Degenerative disc disease – The discs in the spine can wear down over time, This type of repetitive stress injury can lead to chronic pain and limitations on a person’s ability to perform work-related tasks.
  • Paraplegia or tetraplegia – A serious workplace accident can cause the spinal cord to be damaged or severed. Depending on where a spine injury occurred, a person may suffer partial or complete paralysis affecting their lower limbs or their entire body.
  • Sprains and strains – The muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the back may be damaged when a person attempts to lift an object that is too heavy or because of other work-related accidents.

A back or spine injury will be covered by workers’ compensation if it occurred while a person was working or because of the work they have performed. Injuries in workplace accidents, such as a fall from a ladder or scaffold or a motor vehicle collision that took place while a person was driving for work, will qualify for workers’ comp, regardless of whether a worker or their employer was responsible for the accident.

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Chicago-Workers-Comp-Attorney-Third-Party-injury-min People who are injured while working are usually entitled to receive workers’ compensation . These benefits are available whether a worker, their employer or other parties were at fault for an injury. To receive workers’ comp, a person will usually only need to demonstrate that their injury occurred while they were working or arose out of the work-related activities they performed.

While workers’ compensation will fully cover the costs of medical expenses related to an injury, other types of benefits may be limited. For example, disability benefits that address temporary or permanent restrictions to a person’s ability to work will only pay a percentage of the amount a person was able to earn before being injured, and workers’ comp does not address the pain and suffering a person experienced due to their injury. However, in some cases, an injured worker may be able to recover additional compensation by pursuing a third-party claim.

Third-Party Liability for Work Injuries

A third-party claim may seek to recover compensation from anyone other than the injured worker or their employer that was responsible for a work-related injury. These parties may include:

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ptsdIn the early 1900s when soldiers started coming back from combat in World War I, physicians began to notice that many of the soldiers were experiencing the same type of psychological symptoms for months or even years after returning. This phenomenon was dubbed “shell shock,” which then evolved into “combat fatigue” after soldiers returned from World War II. Now, we know that this illness is called post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD, as it is more commonly referred to. Though it is still frequently associated with military members, PTSD can happen to anyone, anywhere, and in various situations. Sometimes, a person’s line of work can be the cause of PTSD, or exacerbate existing mental conditions. But does that allow them to file a workers’ compensation claim for PTSD ?

What Is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental disorder that can develop after a person has experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. Everyone typically experiences distress or other symptoms of PTSD after a traumatic event, but symptoms usually subside gradually. When symptoms do not go away and affect a person’s daily life, there’s a high chance that the person has developed PTSD. Main symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Flashbacks or continuous intrusive memories about the event. Often, these can be extreme and can even make the person feel as if they are reliving the event.
  • Avoiding things that remind the person about the event. This may mean the person refuses to talk about what happened or avoids going to certain places or interacting with certain people who remind them of the traumatic event.
  • Various emotional and behavioral changes. People who have PTSD often experience many negative thoughts and feelings that can lead them to distort the reality around the situation, think negatively about themselves, be detached from others, and no longer find joy in things that they used to enjoy.
  • Changes in reactivity. This can include violent outbursts, behaving recklessly, being irritable, being easily startled, or even concentration and memory issues.

PTSD and Illinois Workers’ Compensation

There have been various Illinois Supreme Court cases that support workers’ compensation coverage for PTSD. The Supreme Court has held that a mental injury like PTSD does not have to be precipitated by a physical injury, unlike in past years. For a PTSD diagnosis to be considered a work injury, the PTSD must be linkable to an event that happened because of and during the person’s line of work. This is known as the “mental-mental” theory of recovery for workers’ compensation claims. The Illinois Supreme Court states specifically that PTSD can be covered under workers’ compensation if the employee “suffers a sudden, severe emotional shock traceable to a definite time, place and cause…though no physical trauma or injury was sustained.”

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