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Breaking the workers' comp process into 5 main steps

Most people associate workplace injuries with particularly hazardous jobs like construction work, mining, truck driving and logging. It's true that these fields tend to have more onsite injuries than others, but workplace accidents can occur in anywhere. If you have been injured at your job, it probably came as a shock: No one goes to work expecting to be harmed.

Employees who have been injured in a workplace accident are often daunted by the legal process of filing for workers' compensation. Filing for compensation can be tedious and a bit confusing, but the process need not be intimidating. There are a few key steps to follow before you can file your claim.

1. Immediately after you are injured, you should seek proper medical treatment. This should be your number-one step before you even consider workers' compensation. Without adequate diagnosis and treatment, your condition could become worse. Keep in mind that not all injuries manifest immediately after an accident: It is possible that your symptoms may take a few days, weeks or even months to appear.

2. Once you have received medical treatment, you should notify your employer of your injury. It is best to do this in writing. Be sure to include the date and location of the accident.

3. To file a formal workers' compensation claim, you must submit an Application for Adjustment of Claim within three years of your injury. Before you submit your form, you must have it signed by a notary. Deliver a copy of the signed document to your employer, then mail three copies to the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission. You should also keep a copy for your own records.

4. There are two deadlines that you must know about before you file your claim. It is very important that you submit notification to your employer within 45 days of your injury, and submit your claim to the state within three years of your injury. If you don't meet these deadlines, you may not be able to reap the full benefits to which you are entitled.

5. You may also wish to see a workers' compensation attorney. This step is optional, but highly recommended. An attorney can guide you through the filing process in detail and can help you receive the most compensation possible.

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