While Illinois Workers compensation legislation is being hotly debated by Illinois legislators, the question of who ultimately bears the cost isn't always clear. How are the costs of medical care, lost wages and disability split between the injured worker and the employer? Often the answer depends on the employee's access to an advocate who understands the system and how to maximize a recovery. Injured workers are well advised to find a worker compensation attorney in Algonquin as the variation .
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Employers are responsible for workers compensation...
Illinois' worker compensation law is clear: it's the duty of employers to pay for medical care and disability benefits (whether temporary or permanent, and whether partial or total) after a workplace injury. Most people hired in Illinois are covered by Illinois workers compensation law, and so should be protected in the event that an injury or disease arises out of the employee's work tasks or environment -- even when the injury happens outside the state.
In fact, Illinois has long had a reputation as a state with a comprehensive workers compensation culture, putting a lot of emphasis on the employer's responsibility to injured employees. This culture has, however, attracted criticism that it deters businesses from moving into the state, and has made the workers compensation law a target for reform.
...but medical care and compensation benefits aren't the only costs.
Even as Illinois' workers compensation law has been targeted by lawmakers intending to attract more business and lower employer costs, workers compensation doesn't cover all the costs of an illness or injury.
Employees who face a serious injury on the job can find that their ten-year projected income drops by 15%, according to a recent study by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). And for families in lower income ranges, as well as families with a single wage-earner, that can mean the difference between escaping poverty and remaining trapped in it.
Lower-wage jobs are often also more hazardous, and lower-wage employees (as well as temporary or contract employees) can find themselves without adequate training or support. That means that the real costs of worker injury can fall on those least able to absorb it.
Workplace injuries don't just have invisible costs: sometimes the injuries are invisible.
It's not always apparent how much a work environment contributes to a disability - especially when the condition is chronic. Workers who face chemical exposure or unsanitary working conditions may experience illness that's hard to trace back to their workplace.
Even when the injuries are immediate and visible, some employees face barriers to reporting. Temporary workers and workers with little job security may believe that reporting an injury will keep them from being given more work, or may result in termination. It is illegal for any employer to terminate an employee because of an injury sustained on the job. If this happens, a worker compensation attorney in Algonquin may be able to take a look at the case. Employees should always have access to worker compensation when they need it.
Recent proposed policy changes intend to reduce worker compensation costs for employers... by pushing them onto workers and taxpayers.
While only about one in four workplace injuries result in a compensation claim, ninety percent of those claims are settled in favor of the employee. However, one proposal intended to lower business operating costs in Illinois aims to reduce that percentage. Hiring a worker compensation attorney in Algonquin can help injured employees make sure their claims get through, but it's a stark reminder of the changing climate of labor in Illinois.
Across the United States, almost 50% of the cost of worker injuries falls on the workers themselves. Just over 20% of that cost is borne by employers. Another approximately 15% is taken on by state and local government, meaning that taxpayers subsidize workers compensation where employers refuse to pay.
And these costs aren't minor expenses. According to the National Safety Council, just the medical costs (ignoring disability benefits) for workplace injuries has been over $50 billion nationwide in previous years. That's a hefty cost to bear.
But businesses do bear the cost of workers' compensation in a major way:
A trained, safe, and healthy workforce is good for business. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that millions of work days are lost to injury every year. OSHA compliance and proper training can go a long way toward minimizing worker injuries and reducing the need for worker compensation, and reporting OSHA violations is a protected action. An Algonquin attorney may be able to help you if you've faced retaliation for reporting a violation before it reaches the point of an injury.
All in all, it behooves businesses to work with employees to stay safe and compliant. But with many businesses looking to cut costs, even if they do so at the workers' expense, it's a good idea to have contact information for a worker compensation attorney in Algonquin on hand.