Illinois law requires most employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance. It’s estimated that more than 90% of Illinois employees are covered. When a worker gets hurt on the job, the employer’s insurance company pays out benefits to that worker.
The law specifically says that employers must insure all employees who work in Illinois, as well as those who are hired in Illinois or injured here. Employers who work for themselves and have no employees do not need to get workers’ compensation insurance, but if they have just one employee, even if it’s a part-time employee, the law applies and they must carry insurance. Employees are covered by Illinois workers’ compensation law the minute they get hired. There is no waiting period.
Employees generally aren’t allowed to sue their employers for negligence after a work injury, even if it was the employer’s fault. That’s just the way the law works. It’s a trade-off. Employers are protected from lawsuits and employees are given benefits without having to prove fault or go through the litigation process. However, if an employer knowingly fails to carry insurance for its employees, then an injured employee may be able to sue their employer in court.
You can search online to see if your employer has coverage, although your employer is supposed to post this information in a place where employees can easily see it. Employers who break the law and fail to get insurance can be fined up to $500 per day. Employees who report employers for non-compliance are allowed to remain anonymous.
If your employer tells you that you can’t file a claim because they don’t have insurance, don’t take that as the final answer. Find out if they really do have insurance. Similarly, if your employer tells you that you don’t qualify for workers’ compensation, look into it for yourself. We talk to people whose employers seem to do anything they can to keep them from filing a claim. They do this to save money but it can really hurt your health and your ability to continue to work and be financially independent. Don’t get intimidated.
There are some rare exceptions, but the general rule is that employers have to carry insurance coverage for their Illinois employees. If you suffer an injury, the benefits you’re entitled to under Illinois law can make a big difference. Not only can you get coverage of 100% of your medical expenses, including doctor visits, tests, prescriptions, and even surgery, but you can collect 2/3 of your average weekly wage if you can’t work because of your injury. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to give us a call.