In Illinois, as in many states, if you are injured at work (or in the course of your employment), you may not sue your employer directly for personal injury. Instead, you must pursue a “workers compensation” action to recover damages from your employer. Because our personal injury lawyers practice predominantly in Illinois, we are most familiar with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act.
The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act promotes the “general welfare of the people of this State by providing compensation for accidental injuries or death suffered in the course of employment within this State.” It also applies to workers out-of-state employed by a company based in Illinois.
The Act provides a set of rules whereby all Illinois employers much provide full medical benefits to workers injured on the job. Employers must have Workers’ Compensation insurance either through a private broker, or by requesting permission to self-insure. If an employer is self-insured that means the employer will directly pay for any workers’ compensation claims.
The Act allows for weekly compensation according to a set formula, which is published every six months by the Illinois Department of Employment Security. The amount of money is not limitless, however. The statute uses a formula that takes into account a series of factors, including:
• Total wages of the State
• Total number of employees in the State, excluding federal and self-employed workers
• The type of injury
• Martial status of the injured party
• If the injured party has children and how many
If you are seriously injured on the job, regardless of whether your employer has workers’ compensation through a private broker or is self-insured, a top personal injury attorney can help you navigate the Act and ensure you receive the maximum amount of compensation available under the law.
Under Illinois law, Workers’ Compensation is the only remedy against your employer if you are injured on the job. However, if someone other than your employer was also negligent, and that negligence contributed to your serious personal injury, you may be able to file what is known as a “third party claim.”
A “third party claim” is akin to a typical personal injury claim. This means that even if you are injured at work, you can still sue other individuals or entities (other than your employer) directly.
For example, if you are a construction worker employed by a subcontractor, and you are seriously injured in a construction accident, you may only bring a workers compensation action against your employer. However, you may have a viable third-party personal injury action against the general contractor, the property owner, or other subcontractors on the construction site, and you can recover damages from those entities including pain and suffering, lost wages, medical expense and loss of normal life. In other words, you may be able to collect damages that exceed what you are entitled to under a Workers’ Compensation claim.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured while on the job as a result of third-party negligence, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer about your case.