In the state of Illinois, normally, an injured worker has three (3) years from the date of injury to file a workers’ compensation claim at the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, or two (2) years from last date of payment of benefits, whichever is later. However, once the three-year statute of limitations has run, no payment of compensation after that three-year period can revive the statute of limitations. When the word “benefits” or “compensation” is used in this context, it could refer not only to temporary total disability (TTD) benefits, but also, for example, the injured worker’s medical bills paid for by the workers’ comp insurance company. For example, if the date of injury is January 1, 2015, then, normally, the last date that a claim can be filed with the IWCC is January 1, 2018. However, the statute can extend by 2 years beyond the last date of a paid medical bill by the work comp insurance company. For this example, if a bill was paid on December 25, 2017, then the statute of limitations would extend until December 25, 2019, which would then be the last possible date that the injured worker could file a workers’ compensation claim.
Another important factor in the process is the notice requirement. In order to file a workers’ compensation claim and to have a chance at success in the process, a worker is required, by law, to inform his or her employer of a work injury within forty-five (45) days of when the worker knew or should have known that his medical condition could be related to his occupation. Obviously, this opens the door to interpretation. For example, a person may develop neck pain, obtain some medical treatment over the course of a year, and bill everything under his group insurance, not realizing a possible work injury connection. He might not bring up the topic of his job duties with his doctors until one of his doctors asks him detailed questions about his occupation well into his medical care. At that point, if one of his well-qualified doctors, such as a board certified orthopedic spine surgeon, offers the worker the opinion that his neck pain most likely is related to his job, then, at that moment, the worker obviously officially knows that it could be a work injury claim, and needs to report it to his employer within 45 days of the date the doctor informed him of the connection. An insurance carrier would probably deny the claim and attempt to argue that denial on the basis of the prolonged medical care prior to the injury report to the employer. The insurance company would likely claim that the employee should have reasonably known of a possible work injury connection long before the doctor brought up the possibility. However, as long as the injured worker’s doctor properly documents everything in the medical records, the client’s argument for a work injury case holds strong ground, but most likely would require an attorney to force the insurance carrier to reconsider their position and/or hire an attorney to argue the matter in court.
Similarly, for injuries resulting from radiological exposure, the injured worker must notify the employer ninety (90) days after he or she knows or suspects that he or she has received an excessive dose of radiation.