“I’m a prison guard in Illinois and I was injured breaking up a fight between inmates. How do I get workers’ comp? Do I need a lawyer?”
That scenario is generally clearly a winning workers’ compensation case in Illinois (unless there is some major special missing detail in the story), and I have represented and won cases of this kind during my 47 years of practicing workers’ comp as an attorney in Illinois.
The first thing you need to do is to make sure that your employer has been notified that you were injured while working. Usually, this involves a written accident report of some kind, but if not that, at least make sure that you provide verbal notice of your work injury to your immediate supervisor and/or boss. In my experience, prison guards usually end up getting a written injury report of some kind, because these facilities tend to be very thorough and careful with these incidents, as it’s generally an employer such as the State of Illinois Department of Corrections or the Cook County Department of Corrections, etc., which generally have more clear policies on things than smaller-sized employers. Either way, just make sure you do what you can to report the accident as completely as you can.
WARNING: This will usually lead to a phone call from the workers’ comp insurance adjuster asking you to give a recorded statement. You do NOT have to give a recorded statement and I always tell clients to NOT give one because it is only taken to be used against you in any way possible. (See my post about recorded statements at this link).
Next, you should seek medical care for your injuries from the accident:
If your employer sends you to an “occupational clinic” or on-site nurse or doctor, you need to do the best you can to state what hurts you, and to ask for their help. Many times, these “occupational clinic”-type doctors will not provide you much help, but that is ok – just do the best you can while they see you at their clinic. You just need to then proceed to go get medical care somewhere else, such as your primary care doctor or someone else such as a specific orthopedic specialist for the problem you have.
From there, if your doctor refers you to another doctor with a documented written referral, under Illinois law, it should be covered by work comp insurance. If there is not a written referral between providers, then you start burning/using your doctor choices. In Illinois, you either have only one or two independent doctor choices, depending on if your employer has a “PPP” or “Preferred Provider Program” or not, and then you can see more doctors only if there are clear referrals from your original choice (or choices). It can get confusing quickly and it’s in your best interest to at least talk it through with an attorney, and the sooner the better.
EVEN IF YOUR CASE IS ACCEPTED BY WORKERS’ COMP, I strongly advise you to STILL contact an experienced Illinois workers’ compensation attorney for a FREE consultation. Workers’ comp and personal injury attorney Peter D. Corti is one option for you for a free private talk at phone # (312)-782-8372, or contact me using our contact form (click here to contact us.)