Like all other states, Illinois has set up a workers’ compensation system designed to quickly get injured workers money and the medical care they need. It does so through a deal between employers and employees that has advantages for everyone involved.
For injured workers, they are spared from having to file a personal injury lawsuit in which they need to prove that their employer was negligent or at fault for their accident. Such lawsuits can take a long time and may not result in a verdict or settlement that puts money in the injury victim’s pocket. If you lose your case, you get nothing at all.
While you don’t need to prove fault to obtain workers’ compensation benefits, you do need to show that you suffered an injury, that the injury was work-related, and that you are fully or partially disabled because of the injury
If you can show those three things, you are entitled to benefits which include:
- Payment of reasonable and related medical bills;
- Two-thirds of your lost wages for time off work due to injury (TTD);
- PPD or Permanent Partial Disability payment, usually a lump sum settlement, based on the nature and extent of your injury
- vocational rehabilitation assistance; and/or
- death benefits for the families of workers killed in a workplace accident
The tradeoff for employees is that they typically cannot file a personal injury lawsuit against their employer for an on-the-job injury. This spares employers from the costs, uncertainty and potentially large jury verdicts involved in such suits.
Because most Illinois employers must, by law, carry workers’ compensation insurance or self-insure against workplace injuries, the majority of Illinois workers are protected against the prospect of losing their livelihood because of a work accident.
But that is only the case when the system works as it should.