Workers’ compensation insurance coverage is required in most states in the US for most employees. In Illinois, the relevant legislation is the Illinois Worker’s Compensation Act (820 ILCS 305) which was first enacted in 1911 and revised in 2011. Employers may elect to self-insure, except for those in “extra-hazardous” occupations, meaning that they would be responsible for providing workers’ compensation benefits rather than depend on an insurer, but they have to get permission from the state Workers’ Compensation Commission.

Whether covered by an insurance company or by the employer, a worker who sustains a job-related injury is entitled to benefits as stipulated in the law. However, when an accident happens and an employee needs immediate medical attention, there is some confusion about who pays for the bills when a claim has not yet been filed.

Champaign workers’ compensation lawyers will explain that under the law, the employer is responsible for paying for all qualified and reasonable emergency and in-patient medical expenses upon notification of the injury. The medical or health care provider should be notified from the outset that the injury is work-related so that they know that payment should be collected from the employer. The employer may deny a claim and will not have to pay or process a claim with an insurer if it turns out that the medical expenses do not qualify under workers’ compensation, and the worker will then be responsible for the expenses incurred. However, according to the website of the Hankey Law Office P.C., qualified workers may still consult with a disability lawyer to claim benefits for injuries that will prevent the employee from returning to work for at least 12 months. If the disability is permanent, the worker may even qualify for Social Security as well.

If an employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance or fails to give the benefits that an injured worker is entitled to, payment may be forthcoming from the Injured Workers' Benefit Fund if the employee reports this to the Commission in a timely manner. In the meantime, the Commission will go after the employer to get reimbursement for any monies expended on behalf of the injured worker.