What If I Cannot Go Back To Work
What happens when a work related injury leaves you with permanent restrictions and your employer cannot accommodate those restrictions? You find yourself without a job, without an income, and very little hope that you will find an employer who is willing to tolerate your restrictions. Often times when accommodating work is found, it is for less pay than what you were earning prior to your injury. What happens then? What are your rights in Illinois?
This is where having an experienced workers’ compensation attorney makes a huge difference. Let’s face it, most people have to work to survive. Money doesn’t grow on trees. Most people find a career or occupation and spend their entire adulthood in the same or similar field. Take a union electrician as an example. After high school, he goes through an apprenticeship to learn a the trade. He then works as an electrician making well over $1400 a week. At the age of 50, he falls of a ladder and suffers a catastrophic injury to his leg. Despite the best treatment available, he is left with a permanent restriction of doing only sedentary or sit-down work. His employer has nothing for him to do. The union can’t place him to work anywhere within his restrictions. What does he do?
Under Illinois law, that electrician is entitled to vocational rehabilitation. That is a glorified word for “searching for work while work comp continues to pay you a weekly check.” This process begins with the injured worker searching for work within his restrictions. He records his diligent job search showing his efforts. Sometimes a vocational expert will get involved to assist in the job search. During this process, the insurance company often plays games or threatens to stop benefits if they are not satisfied with the efforts given to look for work. It is important to have an attorney to guide you through this process to ensure your benefits do not stop. If a job is eventually obtained, the next question turns to how much the former-electrician will now be paid. In some cases, the new wages can be extremely low compared to wages prior to the injury. For example, the electrician was being paid $35/hour to do 40 hours of work a week. But in the new job, that same worker is only getting paid $15/hour. That is a loss of $800 per week! Under IL law, work comp is required to pay the worker 2/3 of that loss or $533.33 per week until he reaches age 67. Sometimes, a work related injury results in restrictions so severe that the worker cannot find any employer who is willing to accommodate him. He may be permanently and totally disabled. In which case the worker needs an attorney to ensure that he is compensated appropriately. He may also have to consider pursuing social security disability benefits. In the case of many law enforcement officers and firemen, they may need to apply for an “in-the-line-of duty” disability pension when their restrictions prevent them from continuing their work as a first responder.
Whether your injury is minor with no lost time from work or catastrophic leaving you permanently disabled, Black & Jones Attorneys at Law will fight to make sure you get the benefits you are entitled to under the law. No case is too small when your health and livelihood are concerned. And for those who aren’t able to get back to work, Black & Jones will ensure that you know what your options are to secure your future. Call us today!