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Can you collect workers’ compensation on an old injury?

| Oct 8, 2014 | Workers’ Compensation

According to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, the question of whether a worker can collect workers’ compensation for an old injury is one of both time and definition. First, time is a potentially disqualifying condition for workers’ compensation cases in Illinois. Specifically, the amount of time that passes between the occurrence of a workplace-related injury and the execution of administrative requirements for receiving benefits in consequence of such an injury can make or break a case.

How much time is available for workers to execute the necessary administrative requirements for receiving workers’ compensation benefits depends on how an old injury is defined. Such definitions could include:

  • An injury that occurred prior to employment
  • A preexisting injury that was aggravated in the course of employment
  • An injury incurred through employment, but manifested afterwards

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation and Occupational Diseases Act features specific provisions for the variety of circumstances that could constitute an old injury.

Injuries must relate to employment

An injury that occurred prior to employment does not qualify for benefits under workers’ compensation law in Illinois, making timing irrelevant. In order for any claim to be successful, the causal relationship between the occupation in question and the injury in question must be established. Therefore, an injury that occurred independent of the occupation fails this necessary test.

There is, however, a critical caveat to the ineligibility of pre-existing injuries for workers’ compensation. If a pre-existing injury was aggravated in the course of employment, the injury becomes eligible for the provision of benefits. Under Illinois law, even if a workplace-related injury originated prior to employment, the aggravation of the injury enables compensation for the entirety of the injury.

Specific notification and filing requirements

The administrative requirements for workers relate primarily to deadlines for notifying employers of the injury and filing a claim with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. According to the Act, workers must notify their employers within 45 days of the workplace accident that produced the injury. In terms of filing claims, in most cases, employees must file a claim within three years after an injury or within two years of the last payment of Temporary Total Disability or a medical bill, whichever is later.

Some cases are exempt from the standard deadlines for filing claims. Claims for respiratory disorders, such as pneumoconiosis or asbestos, have special time requirements. Illnesses resulting from radiological exposure or repetitive trauma, for example, also come with extended deadlines. Finally, some cases involving the death of a worker have different time limits. In all workers’ compensation cases, but especially in those featuring old injuries, injured workers may wish to consult an attorney.