Many people who work in Illinois do not live in the state. Alternatively, some Illinois residents will travel to Wisconsin, Indiana and Missouri for work each day. When these workers are injured, there is some question as to where they can claim workers’ compensation. The good news for them is that they can receive benefits so long as they figure out the right state in which to file.
Workers Compensation Claims Involving an Out-of-State Worker
Our first scenario involves a worker from Cook County who drives across the Indiana state line to work in Gary. The employee suffered a strained back at their factory job in Indiana and is unable to work for a year. In addition, they will need months of intensive physical rehabilitation in order to be able to return to work.
In this case, the proper place for the injured employee to file for workers’ compensation benefits would be in Indiana. In order to file for workers’ compensation under Illinois law, the worker would need to prove that any one of the following three conditions occurred:
- The contract for employment was drawn up in Illinois.
- The injury occurred within Illinois during the course of employment.
- Their primary place of employment of the injured employee where they spend the majority of their workdays is in Illinois.
When a worker is injured out of the state, the primary test for determining which state’s workers’ compensation law applies is whether or not they were hired in Illinois. As long as your Illinois contract for employment remains in effect, you can file for workers’ compensation benefits in Illinois no matter where you were working when you got hurt.
In our above example, our worker goes to work every day in Indiana and was injured in that state as well. Assuming that the contract was not drawn up in Illinois, they would file in the state where they were injured. The employer would have been required to have Indiana workers’ compensation insurance so they would be covered.
The second scenario is when an out-of-state resident is hurt in Illinois. Given the number of jobs that there are in the Chicago area, many people come to Illinois for work. Also, since Illinois is at the figurative center of the country, much of the nation’s goods move through the state. Thus, there may be many people who are temporarily in the state for work who reside somewhere else.
Illinois Law Protects You When You Suffer a Work Injury
First of all, Illinois law requires out-of-state companies to purchase workers’ compensation insurance from an insurance company or an insurance carrier in the state under a number of circumstances:
- They have any workers in the state.
- They conduct business operations in Illinois.
- They have hired employees in Illinois, even if they work elsewhere.
- They have employees who do more than half of their work in Illinois.
The State of Illinois cares about its jurisdiction and its residents. The state wants to apply the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act as broadly as possible to protect as many workers from work injury and occupational diseases as it can. As a result, out-of-state workers who are injured in Illinois will usually be protected under Illinois’ laws.
Medical Benefits When Getting Medical Care Outside of the State of Illinois
One question that you may have is what happens when you seek medical treatment or vocational rehabilitation outside of Illinois for an Illinois workers’ compensation claim. Illinois law provides that you will be covered for these injuries at either the lower of the Illinois fee schedule or the fee schedule where the person is being treated. Thus, based on the Workers’ Compensation Act, you need to be careful about incurring medical bills that exceed the Illinois fee schedule because you could end up owing the balance of your medical expenses.
However, it may be in your best interest to not have any workers compensation law apply to your job injury. This is because workers’ compensation laws usually are the only way that you can get compensation for a work-related injury. You normally cannot sue an employer for negligence.
If the employer does not have Illinois workers’ compensation coverage, and the laws of their home state do not provide for workers’ compensation coverage for out of state injuries, they may be able to file a negligence lawsuit against their employer who does not have the proper comp insurance.
What to Do in an Interstate Workers’ Compensation Situation
When you are a resident of one state and the injury occurs in another state, here is what you should do:
- Research the information available on the website of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission.
- Check the requirements of Illinois and the other state to see if you qualify for workers’ compensation benefits in one or both of the states.
- Search for workers’ compensation attorneys that can help you with your case.
- Compare the benefits of the states if it is possible to claim in either state.
- Select the workers’ compensation program that gives you the highest possible benefits based on your average weekly wage.
- If Illinois is the right place to file, submit your claim to the IWCC.
If you are an out-of-state resident filing in Illinois, you should get familiar with the Illinois workers’ compensation insurance program and how to file a claim for your work injury. You should also be documenting your claim, including being able to establish why you qualify for Illinois benefits as opposed to those in another state. Before you get treated for your injury, you need to familiarize yourself with the Illinois medical fee table that is associated with the workers’ compensation program so you know what you can incur in medical costs.
If it seems that the law on workers’ compensation is confusing when you are dealing with interstate issues is confusing, you are correct. An Illinois workers’ compensation lawyer can explain the law to you and help you figure out the best course of action when you have a temporary total disability, a permanent disability or a permanent partial disability.