From working in construction sites alongside busy roads to driving forklifts around dangerous factories, employees operate under very precarious circumstances. Unfortunately, as you might expect, accidents often happen in these situations and in many others where people are put to work. Black lung and carpal tunnel syndrome are popular and widely known workplace injuries but they are only a few of the many dangers surrounding employees. If you are harmed at work, then you might wonder who you can sue and for what you can sue them. That is when we come into the picture.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC has represented many victims of Illinois workplace incidents involving many different kinds of injuries. We recognize that immediately after the accident serious issues will emerge such as: medical bills, lost income, and future disability that might prevent you from working in the same capacity. However, the law related to accidents sustained on the job is complex. It is a dance involving many peculiar steps ad requirements. Fortunately, we have been there before and can walk you through the entire process with experience, communication, and resources. This will guarantee that you do not loose a dime of the compensation that you deserve. Yet, we know you will have questions so here is some information on the laws surrounding workers’ compensation in Illinois as well as what other victims have recovered through court or settlement.
The Law Surrounding Illinois Worker's Compensation
What is workers’ compensation? This is a very common question. Many people do not understand the difference between a workers’ compensation claim and a lawsuit and just as many do not understand for what and why you can bring a workers’ compensation claim. Starting with the basics, however, think of workers’ compensation like insurance. It provides employees with compensation for the injuries they received on the job for things like medical bills and lost wages. It is a no-fault system meaning that workers do not have to show that others were guilty or that they were innocent. Importantly, when employees file a workers’ compensation claim, they must typically waive any right they might have to filing a lawsuit.
Am I covered? There are three requirements to satisfy in order for you to receive workers’ compensation: first, the company you work for must carry workers’ compensation insurance; second, you must be an employee of the company; third; the injury must be work-related. Most states require companies of a certain size to carry workers’ compensation insurance with few exceptions. You cannot claim workers’ compensation if you are merely an independent contractor or vender of a company. The company must actually employ you. Finally, an incident is generally considered work-related if it is for the benefit of the employer.
Can I not sue my employer? Generally, the answer is ‘no’. Workers’ compensation is a compromise. It awards compensation to employees on a no-fault basis. This gives them recovery without the hassle of proving the employer was wrong but in return they also have to relinquish the right to sue them at trial. However, there are certain circumstances when you can still sue for workplace injuries including the following:
- Intentional torts of the employer.
- Third-party negligence (not a direct employer) including equipment makers.
- Wrongful termination.
Average Worker's Compensation Awards in Illinois
So, the above section gives you the fundamental framework of workers’ compensation claims. Yet, we know that your goal is compensation and are probably thinking: “What is my workers’ comp case worth?” What we should first tell you is that every case is unique and you should not gauge what you will receive by what others have received. On the other hand, laying out some statistics might give you the low and high bounds of what is possible so that you have an idea if a claim or suit is even worth it. With that mindset, take a look at this information:
- The state average for workers’ compensation cases is approximately one million dollars.
- State median returns for workers’ compensation cases roughly ranges between $65,000 and $75,000.
- 45% of all workers’ compensation cases in Illinois recovered under $100,000 and 29% of all cases recovered more than $1,000,000.
- 40% of all workers’ compensation cases in Cook County recovered under $100,000 and 31% of all cases in Cook County recovered more than $1,000,000.
Past Worker's Compensation Awards
The statistics above should help you anchor your estimate of what recovery is possible but you might want a more specific view. To do that, compare your injury to the injuries described in the following case summaries. The following stories come from both lawsuits and Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission decisions. The Commission resolves workplace matters between employers and employees when the latter are injured on the job. An arbitrator makes the initial decision but that can be appealed to a three-member panel and then the circuit, Appellate, and Supreme Courts of Illinois. Like many traditional lawsuits, settlement often emerges before this entire process exhausts itself.