Does Workers’ Compensation Cover All Job Injuries?

David Monteleone
Illinois Accident and Wrongful Death Lawyer

  Posted  |  Category : Workers’ Compensation

Two Construction Workers

For both trauma injuries and occupational diseases, workers’ compensation is normally the exclusive remedy for these victims. Workers’ compensation insurance provides no-fault benefits that replace lost wages and pay for medical bills. But as outlined below, there are some situations when workers’ compensation does not apply.

Generally, these victims can file legal claims outside the workers’ compensation system. These claimants are usually entitled to additional non-economic damages for things like pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment in life. The level of proof required varies in different cases.

Uninsured Employer

Illinois law requires employers to carry full workers’ compensation insurance. But some companies do not buy insurance in flagrant violation of the law. Other employers make false statements on official forms, and the insurance company denies coverage.

These false statements usually involve lying about the number of employees or the work they perform. Insurance companies use this information to set premiums. So, if a construction company says it has twenty clerks and ten roofers when the opposite is true, the insurance company might refuse to honor the policy.

In these situations, job injury victims must normally establish employer negligence. Essentially, negligence is a lack of care. This lack of care is usually easier to prove in these contexts. Generally, Illinois law forbids uninsured employers from using some silver bullet defenses, like “assumption of the risk” and “comparative fault.”

Defective Product

Negligence is usually irrelevant in these claims, at least for liability purposes. Manufacturers are strictly liable for the damages their defective products cause. That defect could be a:

  • Design Defect: Some artificial hip implants were defectively designed. Their all-metal parts grind together, releasing tiny metal fragments into the blood. These microscopic fragments build up and cause metallosis, or metal poisoning.
  • Manufacturing Defect: Other artificial hips suffer from manufacturing defects. Some hip makers used cheap imported parts from China and other places that have high levels of mercury and other dangerous heavy metals.

Negligence could be relevant in the damages phases of these cases. If the manufacturer intentionally disregarded a known risk, which is usually the case, additional punitive damages are available.

There is a difference between an altered product and a defective product. To speed up the process, many employers remove safety guards and other such things from saws and other tools. Employers, and not the manufacturers, are responsible for any resulting injuries.

Reckless Employer

Altering tools, and putting workers at risk, is a good example of employer recklessness. Other examples include refusing to make necessary repairs or sending workers to job sites without adequate protective gear.

Workers’ compensation was never designed to cover situations like these. If there is clear evidence of recklessness, most injured victims may file claims in civil court. These claims shine a light on this issue and force these employers to change the way they do business.

In all three of these areas, victims must establish facts by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). That’s the lowest standard of proof in Illinois.

Count on a Savvy Attorney

Workers’ compensation is not always the exclusive remedy for job injury victims. For a free consultation with an experienced Rockford personal injury lawyer, contact Fisk & Monteleone, Ltd. We routinely handle matters in Winnebago County and nearby jurisdictions.