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What Are Retail Employees’ Rights to Workers’ Compensation?Though they may not have the most dangerous job, retail employees have a high rate of work-related injuries. You are less likely to suffer a catastrophic injury while working at a retail store than working for a construction company, but labor studies suggest that retail workers have a higher injury rate than construction workers. If you have suffered an injury from retail work, you have the right to request workers’ compensation benefits to cover your medical expenses and missed pay from the time you are forced to take off from work. Your employer is not allowed to retaliate against you for filing a workers’ compensation claim.

Retail Injuries

Many retail stores require their employees to perform physical tasks that can result in injury. For example:

  • A customer has spilled a drink or tracked water into the store, and you slip on the liquid because you did not notice it.
  • The repetitive strain from lifting heavy objects causes chronic muscle pain.
  • You accidentally cut yourself with a knife while opening a box.
  • You are involved in a forklift accident while working in the stockroom.
  • You are hit by a car while collecting shopping carts from a parking lot.

It does not matter who was at fault for your injury or whether you could have avoided the injury. If you are injured while you are working for your employer, you qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.

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Workers’ Compensation Includes People Who Work From HomeAll non-essential businesses in Illinois have been closed to the public in order to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Some employees are able to work from home and may continue to do so after the stay-at-home order is lifted. Even before this public health crisis, many jobs were trending towards telecommuting in order for businesses to save money on office space. Because you are rarely in an employer-owned office, you may be surprised to learn that it is possible to receive workers’ compensation benefits if you are injured while working from home.

When Do Home Injuries Qualify?

Workers’ compensation claims are not limited to incidents that occur while you are on your employer’s property. The workers’ compensation insurance covers any injuries that happen while you are doing work on behalf of your employer. For instance, you are working if you are visiting someone on a sales call or driving a truck to deliver goods. The same applies when you are working from home. If you trip and fall while working at home, you can file a claim to cover your medical expenses and provide you with disability benefits if your injury prevents you from working. It does not matter that your employer does not control the safety conditions of your home.

Proving Your Claim

When you are injured on company property or in a public place, you have the advantage of witnesses who can confirm that you were injured and when it occurred. You likely do not have a witness if you are injured while working at home, which may give your employer and its workers’ compensation insurer a reason to scrutinize your claim. To support your claim, you should:

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Does Workers’ Compensation Cover the Coronavirus?COVID-19 – more commonly known as the coronavirus – has created a worldwide health crisis because of how quickly it spreads and the number of deaths it has caused. With the virus spreading in the U.S., many people are taking precautions to try to avoid catching it. Unfortunately, you will always be at some risk of contracting a virus when you are in public places, including your workplace. Could you file a workers’ compensation claim if you contracted the coronavirus at work? While there are jobs where you have a heightened chance of getting sick, you will qualify for workers’ compensation only if you can prove that your work caused you to contract the virus.

Occupational Diseases

Illinois workers’ compensation covers illnesses and diseases when an employee’s work puts them at greater risk than the general public of becoming sick. For instance, developing a lung disease may be an occupational disease if you were a construction worker who was exposed to asbestos. Workers’ compensation covers infectious diseases when your job requires you to come in contact with people who have the virus, such as healthcare workers and emergency responders. You could easily contract the coronavirus from someone at your office, but that does not mean that you were at any greater risk of catching the virus at work than you would have been at any other public place. If your job is at a doctor’s office, then you could claim that regularly interacting with patients created an increased risk.

Protecting Yourself

Knowing that you may not be able to collect workers’ compensation if you contract the coronavirus, it is critical that you try to protect yourself at work against the virus and prevent its spread:

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How Workplace Injuries Can Lead to AmputationAccording to a 2017 survey by the U.S. Bureau of Labor, one out of every 20,000 workers suffers a workplace injury that results in or requires an amputation. However, that statistic is deceptive because it includes all workers, including those at jobs where there is virtually no chance of someone losing a body part. Manufacturing, construction, and agriculture are the industries with the highest rate of amputation injuries, which may be as high as 2.1 out of every 10,000 workers. There are several reasons why amputation injuries are more likely to occur in these industries.

What Causes Amputations?

A workplace injury may result in someone losing a body part if the part was cut off during the incident or damaged to the point that a doctor was forced to amputate it. According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, amputation injuries can occur when a worker:

  • Operates a machine that is used for actions such as cutting, pressing, grinding, and crushing
  • Sets up or performs maintenance on these machines
  • Handles heavy materials that may fall on and crush a body part
  • Uses tools that are capable of cutting or otherwise severely injuring someone

How Do You Prevent Amputation Injuries?

OSHA states that amputation injuries most often occur because guards on the machinery are not being used, workers are inadequately trained to use the equipment, or proper safety procedures are not in place. To prevent these accidents, OSHA advises that employers should make sure that:

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What Happens When an IME Conflicts with Your Doctor’s Report?You may have appointments with multiple doctors after suffering a work-related injury. Your treating physician is your primary doctor who will diagnose your injuries, administer your treatment and monitor your recovery until you have reached maximum medical improvement. If you are filing a workers’ compensation claim, your employer can order you to visit a physician for an independent medical exam (IME). The IME doctor will give the workers’ compensation insurer an opinion on whether the workplace incident caused your injuries, the extent of your injuries, and whether you are capable of returning to work. Sometimes, the IME report will contradict your physician’s report, forcing you to settle the dispute with an arbitrator.

Difference of Opinion

Workers’ compensation attorneys often find the opinions from IMEs to be dubious because the insurance company is paying the physician for the service. An IME doctor is supposed to be independent, but insurance companies will regularly use doctors who have a history of giving opinions that favor the companies in workers’ compensation cases. How can an IME doctor give a credible medical report that contradicts the findings of other physicians? The doctor may:

  • Search your medical history for other potential causes of your current condition
  • Be less thorough in examining your current condition before reaching a conclusion
  • Simply have different opinions about the causes and effects of injuries.

Arguing Your Case

The IME may conclude that your injury was unrelated to your work, that your injury is not as severe as your treating physician claims, or that you are physically able to return to work in a full or limited capacity. Based on these findings, your workers’ compensation insurer may try to deny your claim or stop your disability benefits. When a workers’ compensation arbitrator receives conflicting medical reports, they will use the report that they deem to be more credible. You can help your case by:

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