All too often, good people are injured on the job and believe in the “false hope” that they will either get better and return to normal life in a short period of time, or they simply believe that their employer will take good care of them if their condition turns out to be a serious one. Those hopes and beliefs can lead you down a critical path of no return, no compensation, and no justice at all.
Navigating the laws associated with our workers’ compensation system can be difficult even for the most sophisticated lawyers, let alone the hard-working citizens of our state that have no legal background at all. The insurance industry, on the other hand, owns high-rise buildings throughout the country filled with lawyers and risk managers who are expertly trained and equipped to protect the insurance company’s most important asset: their money! So, if protecting yourself and your family is important to you, securing competent legal counsel as soon as humanly possible after a serious injury occurs just may be the most important decision that you ever make.
One classic example of how to protect your rights is to comply with the mandatory 45 day Notice Rule. Most workers have never heard of this rule. Employers never advise employees of the rule. Insurance companies never provide this critical information to injured workers because it would only ensure that the injured worker is able to secure the compensation and justice that they deserve. But as Chicago’s largest workers’ compensation and personal injury law firm, it is our mission at GWC to get this important information out to as many people as possible.
So what is this 45 Day Rule? The rule is quite simple, but the failure to comply with it is absolutely FATAL to a claim. So let’s make sure that you understand the rule: any time a person is injured in the course of their employment, they MUST provide notice to a person who is in a supervisory capacity within 45 days of their injury. If they do not, any rights and claims that they may have or otherwise had will be permanently barred. Notice can be given orally, in an email, in a text message, or by someone else calling and advising the employer’s representative. Notice can be by virtue of a supervisory person witnessing an accident or the ambulance coming to the jobsite to tend to one’s injuries. And do not turn this issue into a “he said/she said” situation. If you provide notice orally, have a witness present to support your allegation that you did, in fact, provide notice of your injury occurring on the job.
So “who” must notice be given to? Anyone in a supervisory capacity, or one who is authorized to accept this type of information on behalf of an employer. So a foreman, superintendent, project manager, office manager, and the like qualify as persons to whom notice can be given of the injury occurring at work. A co-worker who witnesses your fall and injury, unless he/she is a foreman, is NOT going to qualify. Even if you have 5 such witnesses and your accident is on video tape, the rule IS what the rule IS: you MUST provide notice to the proper representative of the employer within 45 days of your accident or all of your rights, benefits and entitlements under the workers’ compensation laws will be barred forever. And since your union health and welfare benefits are never supposed to be used to pay for your “work-related” medical bills, nor for any lost time disability, you and your family are going to experience a financial nightmare if you fail to give proper notice, as outlined above.
While there is no legal requirement to prepare and submit an Accident Report, if you do decide to write a report, remember to be:
• BRIEF as to the description of how the accident occurred,
• SPECIFIC as to the DATE of the incident causing the injury,
• COMPLETE in describing ALL PARTS OF THE BODY affected, and
• SMART and keep a copy for your records.
For any questions on your rights under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, or any type of personal injury matters, call GWC and ask for Louis C. Cairo, the managing partner of the firm. Louis will be glad to answer your questions, FREE OF CHARGE, at (312) 464-1234, or click here to chat with one of our representatives today.