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I’m receiving workers’ compensation, can I sue my employer?

On behalf of Jeffrey Frederick of Frederick & Hagle posted in Workers’ Compensation on Saturday, October 25, 2014.

Emotions can run high following a serious workplace accident, and worsening financial stability is an unfortunate repercussion that many injured Illinois employees suffer through. Fortunately, Illinois employers must carry workers’ compensation insurance. If a benefits claim is denied, however, some employees may consider pursuing a personal claim injury instead of an appeal.

Unfortunately, if an employer provides workers’ compensation coverage, then they cannot actually be sued for an accident that occurred at the workplace. As such, workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, meaning injured employees forfeit the right to file a lawsuit against an employer and they can receive benefits for an injury suffered at work, even if he or she may have been the one at fault. While this is the general rule, a few exceptions do apply.

Purposeful physical or emotional harm inflicted by an employer is not protected from being sued by the workers’ compensation no-fault system. Basically, employers aren’t legally protected from harming someone intentionally, while they would be protected from a negligently unsafe work environment. Additionally, a third party may also be at fault. A defective product or equipment that contributed to an accident could also result in an injured employee’s ability to sue someone after a workplace accident, although this claim would be directed at the product’s manufacturer.

Although an initial denial of workers’ compensation benefits does not give an injured Illinois employee the right to sue an employer, there may be extenuating circumstances that can and do warrant a personal injury claim. These varying claims can also provide compensation for different things. While workers’ compensation focuses more on missed wages and medical bills, a successfully navigated personal injury claim can provide recourse for both of those things as well as for any pain and suffering that the victim endured and may continue to endure.

Source: FindLaw, “Workers’ Compensation: Can I Sue My Employer Instead?“, Oct. 25, 2014

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