In order to be protected under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, an injured worker must give notice of his injury to his employer as soon as practicable, but no later than 45 days after sustaining an accidental injury arising out of the employment. 820 ILCS 305/6(c). If the employee does not notify his employer that he was injured, the failure to give notice will bar the claim. Ristow v. Industrial Commission, 39 Ill.2d 412 (1968).
To give proper notice, an employee must provide his employer with the approximate date and time of the accident, if known. An employee may notify his employer orally or in writing. If the injured employee has any questions about this process, he should seek the advice of a workers’ compensation lawyer immediately. Timely reporting is crucial.
The statute governing the notice requirement states as follows:
Notice of the accident shall be given to the employer as soon as practicable, but not later than 45 days after the accident. Provided:
(1) In case of the legal disability of the employee or any dependent of a deceased employee who may be entitled to compensation under the provisions of this Act, the limitations of time by this Act provided do not begin to run against such person under legal disability until a guardian has been appointed.
(2) In cases of injuries sustained by exposure to radiological materials or equipment, notice shall be given to the employer within 90 days subsequent to the time that the employee knows or suspects that he has received an excessive dose of radiation.
No defect or inaccuracy of such notice shall be a bar to the maintenance of proceedings on arbitration or otherwise by the employee unless the employer proves that he is unduly prejudiced in such proceedings by such defect or inaccuracy.
Notice of the accident shall give the approximate date and place of the accident, if known, and may be given orally or in writing. 820 ILCS 305/6
This notice requirement is intended to benefit both the employer and the employee. By notifying his employer, the employee permits the employer to immediately work to facilitate the primary purpose of the Workers’ Compensation Act, which is to “provide employees a prompt, sure, and definite compensation, together with a quick and efficient remedy, for injuries or death suffered by such employees in the course of their employment…and to require the cost of such injuries to be borne by the industry itself and not by its individual members.” O’Brien v. Rautenbush, 10 Ill.2d 167 (1956).
It is extremely important that an injured worker notify his employer of the approximate date and place the employee suffered an accidental injury arising out of his employment. The notice requirement is jurisdictional, and the failure to provide notice within 45-days can bar an employee’s workers’ compensation claim. As such, an employee should give notice of his work-related injury as soon as practicable.