Join me and Workers Compensation Attorney Brian Laughlin, as we discuss work injuries, and what you should do about them: Should you hire a lawyer? What are your rights? Will your boss fire you if you bring a claim?

If you are injured on the job, what should you do? If you hire a lawyer or bring a claim, will your boss fire you? What are your rights in this situation? Brian Laughlin can answer those questions as he is an attorney with Owens & Laughlin LLC ( – tel. (847) 752-8537) and specializes in workers’ compensation law.

Laughlin grew up in the Chicagoland area and had an interest in becoming a lawyer after being part of his high school mock trial team and reading the book about famous law firms, “The Partners” by James Stewart. Laughlin majored in political science in college and worked in the mail room of a large Chicago law firm during school breaks. After college, he worked as a paralegal for the Chicago firm of Kirkland & Ellis for one year before attending law school. While in law school he gained courtroom experience when he worked for the Cook County State’s Attorney under a 711 license. Upon graduation from law school, Laughlin gained experience working first for a general practice and then for a suburban law firm specializing in workers’ compensation defense. After a few years in the suburbs, Laughlin moved to the Chicago law firm of Freeborn & Peters, handling workers’ compensation and some medical malpractice. In 2007, he struck out on his own practicing workers’ compensation cases.

What is Workers’ Compensation?

As most adults spend much of their day at work, there is a likelihood that an injury may occur to a person while at work. Workers’ compensation law governs and refers to an injury that arises out of and in the course of work activities. There are 4 components to workers’ compensation; temporary total disability, medical benefits, permanent partial disability and vocational rehabilitation. The workers’ compensation is a no-fault system; in other words, the employee does not have to prove any fault or wrongdoing on the part of the employer. However, it is important to know that in the workers’ compensation system, there are caps to financial awards and there are generally no multi-million dollar awards. However, unlike a personal injury case, claimants in a workers’ compensation case have their medical bills paid as they are treated as well as receive disability payments as they are treated and recover.

History of Workers’ Compensation Law

The origins of workers’ compensation developed with social reforms in late 19th century Germany. In the United States, there were no protections for workers during the Industrial Revolution except for common-law negligence lawsuits against employers, and employers had very strong defenses against such claims. The workers’ compensation laws in Illinois came into play in the early 20th century.

Workers’ Compensation System

Illinois law governs workers’ compensation in our state and is administered by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. A case is started with the filing of the Application for Adjustment of Claims by the claimant or petitioner employee. The employer is the respondent. This action will assign a number and arbitrator to that case. There is no formal discovery as with a typical lawsuit filed with a court. A pretrial conference is an attempt to identify and possibly settle the workers’ compensation case. If that is not possible, the case will proceed to trial with the Commission.

Typical Workers’ Compensation Cases

Though every workers’ compensation case is different, Laughlin finds that clients may contact him because medical bills are not being paid or a claimant is not receiving temporary disability. Other issues may revolve around doctor-imposed work restrictions. Typically, the injuries involved are largely orthopedic in nature and involve employees who have jobs that require a great deal of physical activity such as construction workers, firefighters, police officers or paramedics.
Laughlin advises someone who has been injured in the course of their work to report the accident to their employer as soon as possible; report the accident on the day it occurs, if possible. Additionally, Laughlin recommends that an injured employee contact a lawyer soon after the accident or at least before they speak to an insurance adjuster so that the employee can understand their rights.