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When does a burn injury meet qualifications for Illinois’ workers’ comp?

| Jun 25, 2014 | Workers’ Compensation

Every year, about 45,000 workplace burn injuries occur, according to a 2011 report from the American Burn Association. Burn injuries may not be the most common workplace injuries, but they can be among the most impactful, since they often cause lasting physical and psychological harm. When employees in Chicago, Illinois, sustain burn injuries, they may be entitled to various workers’ compensation benefits, depending on the nature of the injury.

Qualifying injuries

Under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, Illinois employees can recover damages for any injuries that occur during the performance of job duties. Employees injured while traveling for work may also be entitled to compensation. Even if an employer took reasonable steps to prevent accidents, an injured employee is entitled to benefits following a workplace accident.

As an example, three workers at a Washington State fireworks plant were recently burned in an explosion, according to the Peoria Journal Star. Investigating authorities have not found evidence of negligence. If this accident had occurred in Illinois, the injured employees would be able to seek compensation regardless of whether the company was ultimately found responsible for the incident.

Workers are generally entitled to compensation for medical expenses resulting from any workplace injury. Burn victims may additionally receive other forms of compensation, including:

  • Temporary Total Disability benefits. These benefits are awarded when burn injuries result in missed work and lost wages.
  • Temporary Partial Disability benefits. When a burn victim must work in a reduced capacity during recovery, TPD benefits offset the wage difference.
  • Vocational rehabilitation benefits. These benefits cover retraining costs for burn victims who cannot return to their previous occupations.
  • Permanent Partial Disability benefits. These benefits are disbursed to burn victims who can work but sustain permanent disfigurements or disabilities.

The benefits awarded depend on the extent of the burn, its effects and the documentation the victim provides.

Bolstering a claim

Illinois employers and the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission award compensation based on the functional effects of a burn injury. Temporary functional limitations are compensable; for example, an employee may receive benefits if he or she can only work limited hours while a burn heals. Functional limitations can be established through a detailed medical assessment.

Burn victims may also receive compensation for disfigurement, if they have not collected benefits for loss of use of the same body part. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act allows compensation for disfigurement to specific areas, including the face, head, hand, upper chest and lower leg. Disfigurement can easily be documented, but placing a value on disfigurement can be difficult. Most burn victims can benefit from working with an attorney to evaluate a fair value for disfigurement and other permanent effects of the injury.