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What if an Illinois employer refuses to pay workers' comp?

The Illinois workers' compensation system is in place to help employees who have been injured on the job stay on their feet financially until they can return to work. However, there will be times when an employee believes he or she is not being paid the benefits to which he or she is entitled.

If an employer refuses to pay an employee workers' compensation benefits, it may initially help for the employee or his or her attorney to speak directly with the employer about this issue. The delay could simply be a result of poor communication or a misunderstanding. However, if the employer still doesn't pay the employee the benefits to which the employee believes he or she is entitled, then the employee needs to file a claim with the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission. Keep in mind that an accident report will not suffice for the Commission to take action. The employee has to properly file a claim and request a hearing.

After a claim is officially filed, the Commission will give the employee's claim a case number and assign it to an arbitrator. Every three months the employee's case will be set for a status call, in which either party can request a trial. If no trial is requested, the case will go on for an additional three months for up to three years. After that, the arbitrator may choose to dismiss the case unless the employee or employer demonstrates a good reason for it to go on.

During the initial three-year period, it is the responsibility of the employee to move the case along. Keep in mind that each arbitrator is responsible for thousands of cases, and does not know if benefits are being paid in a particular instance. It is the employee or employer's responsibility to take the appropriate actions and track the case, whether it is the employee seeking benefits or the employer disputing benefits.

The resolution of disputes at the Commission will be discussed in a future post. However, if an employee believes they are not being paid the benefits to which they are entitled, or if they believe their employer is in violation of other workers' compensation laws, they may want to seek the advice needed to take the appropriate actions.

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