Under something called the exclusive remedy provision, workers in Illinois are not generally allowed to sue their employer for injuries sustained while working. It doesn’t matter if your employer was negligent or not. You are able to receive workers’ compensation benefits, but a lawsuit for negligence or even recklessness will likely get thrown out. This is not exclusive to Illinois and as far as I know exists in every other state.
The flip side is that you don’t have to prove fault when bringing a work comp case in Illinois.
For 99.99% of injured workers, that ends that. That’s alright as Illinois has the best employee benefits in the country and you can get significant compensation for serious injuries.
But every now and then a worker in Illinois is hurt due to intentional actions by a co-worker or employer. If that happens you can sue. The most common example is when someone assaults you, but we’ve been involved in cases where employers knew a machine was faulty and made a worker use it any way and they got hurt.
So this is where you need to make sure you don’t screw up.
If you are hurt while working, you will of course want to get medical care and compensation for your time off of work. But if you formally file a case with the State and willfully receive benefits for your work injury, you can be barred from bringing a lawsuit against your employer. There is case law that essentially says you can not in one court allege a work related accident and in another argue that you were hurt by an intentional act. If you do, the personal injury lawsuit could be dismissed, even if you otherwise would have won.
Basically, you don’t want to lose a case on a technicality so you need to be really careful. This is especially true if a catastrophic injury happened like brain damage, life altering injury, death, etc. Those cases could be worth millions which is more than you’d likely get through a normal work comp case.
So again, while this does not apply to most cases, it’s certainly something to be aware of. You absolutely have to consult with an experienced attorney to make sure you make the right decision and don’t do anything that could cause you to lose your rights.
We are happy to consult with anyone for free on any Illinois work injury issue. If you’d like to speak with an attorney, please contact us at 888-705-1766 for help anywhere in Illinois.