Injured Workers’ Benefit Fund: When Your Employer Doesn’t Have Workers Comp
When an uninsured employer fails to pay for workers’ compensation benefits, injured workers in Illinois can apply for benefits via the Illinois Injured Workers’ Benefit Fund. Established in 2005, the IWBF can provide money for lost wages and medical expenses. The IWBF is funded by fines and penalties that are collected from uninsured employers throughout the state who fail to adhere to their legal responsibilities to their employees.
Eligibility for IWBF Compensation
Injured workers in Illinois must meet certain criteria to qualify for IWBF coverage. First, the workers’ finalized compensation award must have been determined. Next, the employer must have been notified of the final award and refused to pay owed benefits. Finally, the employer is either uninsured or underinsured and incapable of providing the owed benefits. If individuals do not meet all three criteria, they are not eligible for IWBF compensation.
Claims are processed by the Division of Insurance Compliance. At the end of the fiscal year which concludes on June 30, the Commission disburses funds to eligible claimants. It is important to note that an injured worker claim may not be paid in full. If there are not sufficient funds within the IWBF to cover all eligible claims, beneficiaries will receive a pro rata disbursement that is determined by the Commission.
The process of applying for IWBF benefits is extensive but it is not onerous. A workers’ compensation lawyer in Illinois can help individuals file the claim for benefits and ensure that everything is submitted in accordance with application requirements.
The Value of Documentation
Injured workers in Illinois should maintain thorough and accurate records of their medical appointments, medical bills, receipts for expenses, communications with physicians and specialists, and any communications with their employer regarding their employee benefits. These records provide a solid foundation for pursuing a workers’ compensation claim, filing for IWBF compensation, or pursuing a lawsuit if that becomes necessary.
Individuals who experience workplace injuries in Illinois should also keep a diary and document the impact the injury has had on their ability to work. The diary injured workers maintain should include records of pain, missed work, and the impact the injury has had on their quality of life. If the injured worker has to file a lawsuit to recover compensation, this documentation provides a valuable record that can be presented to the court.