As many employers make clear, when you injure yourself at work you must let your employer know about the injury as soon as possible. Many employers have standards such as immediately or within 24 hours. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act requires that this notice to the employer be given within 45 days from the date the injury occurred. Failure to provide notice within this time can result in the barring of your claim. It is important to note here before we go to deep into this topic that while you do have 45 days to give notice, it is important for your case that you give notice as soon as possible as delay can have a negative impact on your case. Also, please remember that notice must be given to somebody in a managment position and can be oral or in writing.
This rule of 45 days notice seems easy when you are thinking about acute injuries. An acute injury is when an event occurs which causes the injury. An example would be a slip and fall. However, what happens when we are dealing with the other major type of injury, repetitive trauma? This type of injury occurs when there isn’t one event that causes the injury but doing the same movement over and over again eventually causes a breakdown and subsequent injury. Due to the very nature of this injury, there is no definitive date when the injury occurs. When does the 45 days start?!
There is a famous worker’s compensation case called Peoria Bellwood v. Industrial Commission (115 Ill. 2d 524) which helps us to determine when this time starts. The case found that the date is when the injury “manifests itself.” The case goes on to define “manifest itself” as when the fact of the injury and the causal relationship of this injury to the employment would have become plainly apparent to a reasonable person. What does that mean? Well it essentially means that when a normal person would realize that they have an injury and that injury is related to their work activities then they should give notice and begin the process of a worker’s compensation claim.
As you can guess, this definition can be interpreted in many different ways and depends on the individual facts of each case to determine when the date “manifests” itself. However, it is important. In a recent Workers’ Compensation Commission case, the injured worker began to develop numbness and tingling and pain in her hands and wrists while typing. She sought treatment with her doctor and ultimately underwent surgery. She did not report the injury as work related until approximately one month after her surgery. The Commission found that she did not give notice within the appropriate time and denied her claim. As with any issue in law, there are always exceptions or different outcomes with different facts but it is important to remember that you cannot keep your employer in the dark regarding your work injury If you have any questions about this issue or any issue regarding workers’ compensation, feel free to speak to us by using our no charge initial consultation offer. You can contact us at 312-263-6330 or the toll free State of Illinois injury hotline at 1-800-444-1525. Also, visit us on the web at www.kfeej.com.