When someone experiences a work-related injury, they will typically do one of three things. Some do nothing and choose to not report the injury. This, of course, is a potentially dangerous choice and we strongly urge such workers to reconsider their options. Second, the worker may file for workers’ compensation benefits. A third possibility is that the worker will seek out the assistance of a lawyer with the intention to sue their employer for damages. What may surprise you, however, is that for workers in Illinois, in most cases, suing your employers for your injury is not an option.
Workers’ Compensation is a benefit provided to workers that protects them in the event of a job-related injury or illness. While the details of the law vary from state to state in the U.S., in general workers are afforded the right to seek awards for medical treatments and lost wages if they have been injured at work. Most workers are aware of this benefit to some degree. However, many are unaware that this benefit comes at a price. By Illinois law, in exchange for requiring employers to provide workers’ compensation coverage, most workers lost their right to sue their employer in the event they are injured on the job.
There is no doubt that workers’ compensation, benefits have provided a great deal of relief and protection for injured workers. Before such laws were enacted, many injured workers and their families were without financial or medical help. Costs related to medical treatments and/or an inability to continue working often led to financial devastation. For those who were able to pursue a civil lawsuit in court, proving employer fault or negligence was challenging, time-consuming and expensive. Under the workers’ compensation system, a large portion of workers today are covered by insurance in the event of their injury. Additionally, effort and costs are theoretically lowered for an employee seeking benefits. This is a result of a “no fault” system which allows an employee injured at work to apply for benefits regardless of blame.
On the flip side, with workers’ compensation benefits are limited to certain dollar amounts, even in the event of accidental death. For a worker who has been catastrophically injured or for family members who have lost a loved one, the coverage may not entirely make up for their costs or lost wages. Additionally, an inability to seek out further awards, such as that for pain and suffering, can be frustrating.
Lawsuits and workers’ compensation can, however, still go hand-in-hand. As discussed in a previous article, some injured workers may be eligible to pursue a lawsuit against a third-party who has caused or contributed to their injuries. Similarly, workers who are punished or retaliated against by an employer for filing for workers’ compensation benefits may contact a lawyer workers compensation Illinois to pursue further litigation. While these are important options available for workers, they are distinctly different from actually suing one’s employers for your injuries. In part two of this article, we will discuss the exemptions which exist that may allow an injured worker to seek restitution outside of the bounds of workers’ compensation insurance.
About the Author: Brooke Haley is a Marketing Associate at Millon & Peskin, Chicago workers compensation attorney that practice in the areas of Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury. Millon & Peskin is a General Civil Litigation Practice with the goal of representing the interests of injured workers, throughout all applicable Courts in the State of Illinois. For more information about Illinois workers compensation lawyer,please visit www.millonpeskin.com.