While some people say that owning your own home is the American dream, it's really so much more than that. The American dream is also the belief that anyone can make a living if they are willing and able to work and that workers deserve basic protections and rights. In many ways, the U.S. leads the world in improving conditions for workers and protecting their rights. One of the most important steps forward for workers was the creation of mandatory workers' compensation for insurance.
At the turn of the 20th century, workers in factories, mills and other dangerous locations risked life and limb when going to work. The same is still true for many professions today. However, a century ago, a work injury could destroy your life, impoverish your family and leave you unable to work. Employers could toss away injured or killed workers like they were nothing, so laws were put in place to protect workers. Modern employees have protection in the event of a work-related illness or a job site injury.
What does Illinois workers' compensation cover?
There is often confusion about what workers' compensation may cover. For example, not every medical event that happens at a place of business would receive coverage. If a person has a stroke or heart attack unrelated to the work he or she was doing, that wouldn't likely end up covered by workers' compensation. Sometimes claims initially get denied when they should get approved, meaning that workers and family members need to be ready to appeal a denial to get benefits.
Injuries that occur as part of a workplace accident, such as a machinery malfunction or a fall, however, would be. It's important for workers to know that even injuries that develop over time should get covered. For example, if you perform the same task all day, you could develop a repetitive stress injury that impacts your ability to work. These kinds of injuries generally get covered by workers' compensation. Similarly, illnesses that are directly related to your work, such as a blood-borne illness from a needle poke or even cancer due to asbestos exposure may also receive coverage.
What benefits can workers receive from workers' compensation
When most people think of worker's compensation, the benefit they are most likely to remember is medical coverage. Generally speaking, workers' compensation will cover all the medical costs associated with a work-related illness or injury, without any deductible or co-payment. While that is a boon to workers, that isn't the only benefit available.
There is also lost wage benefits for workers who can't return to work. Whether the inability to work is the result of a short-term disability, long-term disability or death, these benefits will generally replace a portion of the worker's wages. The amount that gets paid depends on both the average weekly wage of the worker in question and the nature of the claim. The state sets maximums based on statewide wage averages. In situations where a worker dies, the family can request death benefits, which they can receive for up to 25 years or until they receive $500,000, whichever is greater.