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What you should know about seeking medical care for a work injury

Getting injured on the job can be quite disruptive. Right away, you may need to stop working and get first aid. If an injury is serious, you may need to go to the hospital. In some cases, the injury can require ongoing monitoring, care and medication. Surgery may also be necessary.

As troubling as this can all be, it is important to remember that this is why workers' compensation is available in Illinois. The benefits provided through workers' compensation are intended to cover medical expenses for work-related injuries so that victims are not left with huge medical bills in addition to a painful condition. However, while medical care is generally covered by this employer-paid insurance, it is important for employees to know some specific requirements that must be observed when it comes to seeking care.

Workers' compensation typically covers all medical expenses that result from an injury. This can include medications, surgical procedures, rehabilitation, visits to the doctor and even the cost of modifying a home or work station, if required. As long as the care is considered to be reasonable and is not disputed by an employer, these costs will generally be covered.

One common misconception that people have is that they can seek care from whichever provider they want. While this may be true in some cases, many workers will need to comply with an employer's Preferred Provider Program, if one is in place. This means that an injured worker will need to choose a provider from an employer-approved list. 

There are other guidelines regarding what to tell care providers, what to submit to employers and which activities to avoid. Failure to stay within these guidelines could jeopardize the compensation available to the employee.

In order to ensure that you are pursuing the most favorable outcome in your case, it can be crucial to understand what your options are and what steps you need to take in order to have your care covered by workers' compensation. Rather than risk making a costly mistake or oversight, you may want to speak with an attorney who understands the complexities and challenges of filing a claim for and collecting workers' compensation.

Source: Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission, "Handbook on workers' compensation and occupational diseases," accessed on Sept. 24, 2014

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