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When Can You Sue Your Employer for a Work-Related Injury?

Posted on March 21, 2022

In the event a person sustains a work injury in Chicago or anywhere throughout Illinois, they will likely be able to recover compensation for all medical expenses and a significant portion of their lost income. However, due to the way that the workers’ compensation system works in Illinois, it is rare that an employee is able to file a lawsuit in civil court against their employer. There are some circumstances where a civil personal injury lawsuit may apply, but only rarely. Here, we will look at the few circumstances where you may be able to sue your employer for a work-related injury.

Does Workers’ Comp Prevent You From Suing Your Employer?

In the state of Illinois, just about every employee is covered by workers’ compensation benefits Employers who fail to provide workers’ comp can face significant penalties. These benefits are designed to compensate an injury victim for any medical expenses they experience as a result of the on-the-job injury. Additionally, workers’ compensation will provide a significant portion of any lost wages a person experiences as well as disability benefits in certain circumstances.

The workers’ compensation system in Illinois is considered a no-fault insurance system, which means that the worker will be entitled to benefits regardless of how the injury occurred, even if they caused the injury. Part of this, though, means that the injured worker will typically not be able to file a lawsuit against the employer, even if the employer caused the injury.

When it Might be Okay to Sue Your Employer for an Injury or Illness

Even though the workers’ compensation system is considered no-fault, there are times when it may be possible to file a civil personal injury lawsuit against the employer. Some of these circumstances include:

  • The employer intentionally harmed you. In order to file a lawsuit in this circumstance, it must be shown that the employer took some action with the specific intent of causing harm. For example, this could include a supervisor physically assaulting a worker. Intentional harm applies only to intentional acts, not an employer’s negligence.
  • The employer did not have workers’ compensation. Illinois law requires that most employers carry workers’ compensation, and failing to carry the required amount of insurance can be detrimental. Workers will likely be able to file civil personal injury lawsuits against their employer if they sustain an injury and their employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance.
  • The employer had knowledge of dangerous conditions in the workplace. If an employer had knowledge about an extremely hazardous situation in the workplace and failed to remedy the dangerous condition, it may be possible for a worker to file a civil personal injury lawsuit to recover compensation. However, the actions of the employer would have to be considered especially egregious and not just “negligent” in order for a civil personal injury lawsuit to proceed forward. Employer negligence will still be covered by workers’ compensation insurance.

We strongly encourage you to reach out to an Illinois work injury attorney who can help handle your work injury claim in Chicago. These cases can be challenging, but an attorney will walk you through the entire claims process and help you file a civil personal injury lawsuit if necessary.