The general rule in Illinois is that workers’ compensation is an injured employee’s sole remedy for workplace injuries unless certain very limited exceptions apply. 820 ILCS 305/5 states that there is no right to recover for these injuries or death “other than the compensation herein provided.” Of course, the compensation that the statute is referring to is workers’ compensation. However, there may be some scenarios under which an injured employee can file a negligence lawsuit, namely when someone else is responsible for their injury.
It is common in the construction industry for there to be a general contractor and multiple subcontractors on a worksite. It is a standard business practice. Each entity is responsible for different parts of the job. As a result, there are hundreds of construction workers on a site answering to different people. However, they only answer to their direct employer.
In Illinois, the laws are very strict about workers being required to stay within the workers’ compensation system. There are very limited exceptions to the rule that workers’ compensation benefits are the sole remedy for injured workers. In Illinois, there is not even an exception for gross negligence as there is in some states. Essentially, the employer has to act intentionally to be liable in a lawsuit. Otherwise, workers’ compensation benefits are the exclusive remedy for a worker’s injury.