Illinois Workers’ Compensation Explained
Chapter 5 – Notice of Accident
This chapter discusses the notice requirements of the workers’ compensation act. It includes discussion of what notice of accident is necessary, when it must be given, and the harm that can result from a failure to give timely notice of accident to an employer. You should also check out “Do I need to report a work accident?”
1. Notice in General
An injured employee is required to give notice of an accident to their employer. The law requires this notice be given as soon as practicable, but not later than 45 days after the accident. Where the employee is under legal disability, the time period does not begin to run until such time as the legal disability ceases or a guardian has been appointed for the individual. Where the injury occurs due to the exposure to radiation, notice must be given within 90 days of when the employee knows or suspects they have received an excessive exposure to radiation.
In repetitive trauma cases notice of accident is still required, although the date of accident is not always easy to identify. Generally speaking, notice must be given to the employer within 45 days of learning you have a work related condition and reasonably suspecting that condition was caused by your employment. That frequently coincides with the date you first seek treatment for the condition, although it can be sooner depending on the circumstances.
2. What Notice is Required
The law requires that you give your employer notice of an accident. It does not specify how that is to be done. It can be done by orally telling a person in a position of authority over you, or by giving written notice of accident to someone in authority. Simply telling a co-worker who is not your supervisor or otherwise in a position of authority over you does not normally count as notice. If your employer has denied your claim because of a lack of notice, you should consult with an attorney as there are some other circumstances that can demonstrate notice to your employer.
You should give notice as soon as possible after an accident. A delay in giving notice, even if it complies with the 45 days required by law, can reflect very poorly on the question of whether you had an accidental injury in the first place. Many a case has been lost when notice was not given soon after an accident. Not because of a failure to give timely notice, but because the delay in giving notice cast a doubt on the worker’s credibility that an accident ever took place.
Finally, while not required by the workers’ compensation act, your employer may have some procedure you are supposed to follow for giving notice of accident. You are well advised to follow that procedure. Failure to do so may not affect your right to workers’ compensation benefits, but certainly may affect whether you get to keep your job.
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