With women making up approximately half of the U.S. workforce, odds are that many of them will work during one or more pregnancies. The majority will experience a healthy pregnancy which will cause little to no disruption to their time at work. That is not to say, however, that it is not vital for women to be mindful of how their working conditions might affect their and their babies health. It’s important to note that to date, though pregnancy discrimination is illegal, pregnancy is not considered a “protected” condition in most states. In other words, often employers are not legally obligated to make accommodations to help their pregnant employees complete their regular job duties, such as lighter work duty, etc. No woman, however, wants to risk themselves or their child’s health. It’s important to be pro-active in reducing those risks that may be present in the workplace.
In a September 12th press conference, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that they expect 2012 to become the worst year on record for West Nile virus cases in the United States. Though we have not yet topped 2002’s record-setting number of 3000 severe cases and 284 deaths, the current pace of cases being reported is so rapid that 2012 is expected to easily eclipse this record by year’s end. As discussed in a previous article, the West Nile virus, which is generally spread by mosquitos, causes symptoms ranging from flu-like symptoms to permanent damage and even death. At particular risk of contracting the virus are workers whose jobs require them to spend more time outdoors, such as construction workers, landscapers and utility workers. Recently, a lawsuit by a railroad worker against his employer highlighted not just the devastation West Nile can reap, but the responsibility employers have to ensure the safety of their employees against the virus.
As the dog days of summer in 2013 crept in, so began a number of disturbing news reports. Nationwide, more and more reports emerged of reports of West Nile virus. People weren’t just getting sick, however. Some were dying. Illinois swiftly joined the ranks of those states reporting cases, which by early September already numbered nearly 2000 cases nationwide – nearly three times the number of cases reported in the entirety of 2011. For outdoor workers, this resurgence of West Nile is of particular concern. Without a doubt, West Nile can have a devastating effect on both a workers’ health and quality of life.
Workers’ compensation law provides important benefits for workers who are injured on the job. However, as discussed in part one of this article, receiving such benefits comes at a price. In exchange, for receiving workers’ compensation insurance coverage, employees are not typically allowed to file a civil suit against their employer for their injuries. This limitation can be frustrating for employees and their families whose benefits fail to make up for what they have lost as a result of an injury. It also means that employers are too often financially protected even when clear negligence has caused pain and suffering for their employees.
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.
When a person is injured on the job, they often want to know what will happen if they file for workers’ compensation benefits. At the Law Office of Millon and Peskin, we answer this question for our clients on a regular basis. But another question is: “Why should I file for workers’ compensation benefits?” And unfortunately, often a person with this question will never seek an answer. These are the workers who, for whatever reason, are compelled to “tough it out” when they are injured on the job. Sadly, they are often making a choice that costs them more than they realize.
“I should sue them!” You hear those words said all the time. You’ve actually probably said them yourself. This phrase is sometimes used jokingly – after a bad haircut or the waiter spilling water on you. But often it’s said in frustration. Something has gone horribly wrong through no fault of your own. You feel victimized, powerless. We don’t trust the guilty party to adequately fix or make up for their error. Maybe they’re denying fault all together. And pursuing a lawsuit against them feels like the only way to be heard, for the truth to be known – to receive justice. Regardless, once these words are said, your next step is: am I serious?
Each year in the United States there are approximately 5 million police-reported motor vehicle accidents. At this high rate, odds are good you will personally be involved in a car accident at some point in your lifetime. Many of us, thankfully, never experience more than mild fender benders or parking lot scrapes. However, around half of these reported accidents involve some sort of injury. In other words, over two million people a year are injured in the U.S. as a result of a motor vehicle crash. If you are a driver, you likely understand your rights regarding insurance and coverage. But what about passengers? A passenger rarely has any culpability when a crash occurs, putting them in the unique position of being a victim regardless of whether the car they were in or another’s caused the accident. If you are injured in a crash, therefore, it’s helpful to know what compensation you may be eligible to pursue for your injury and damages.
If you asked the average worker today if he or she feels safe at their workplace, the answer is usually “Yes”. Even for those who work in more hazardous jobs, such as construction and mining, we often believe that we are less likely to be injured on-the-job today than in the past. The reality is, however, that despite increasing awareness of workplace hazards and advancements in safety technology, the number of workers injured, sickened or killed annually is staggering. A May 2012 article by Jim Morris for The Center for Public Integrity gave this chilling statistic: in 2009 alone, more Americans were killed on the job than in the entire nine-years of the Iraq war.
When a worker in Illinois is injured on the job, he or she often is eligible to file for workers’ compensation benefits. State law in Illinois requires most employers to provide such coverage for their eligible employees. But as we explored in a recent article, the reality is that sadly some employers’ flout the law. Whether they allow coverage to lapse, never obtained coverage, or simply fail to pay awarded benefits, injured workers are the ones who suffer the most. Such workers, however, may not be without justice or options. As discussed in a previous article, employers in violation of the law may be fined and even jailed for failure to provide coverage. More importantly, such employers make themselves vulnerable to expensive lawsuits. While the Workers’ Compensation Act sheilds employers in most cases from lawsuits by injured workers, noncompliance may negate this protection. As such, employees may be able to seek a far greater amount for their injuries than would otherwise have been paid out by workers’ compensation coverage. Another possible option for workers without coverage, and the subject of this article, is the Illinois’ Injured Workers’ Benefit Fund.