Two injuries can be exactly the same, yet treated quite differently under the law. Consider a serious injury caused by a fall. In one case, a man falls off his neighbor’s roof while helping the neighbor with repairs over the weekend. In another case, a man falls off the roof of a customer’s home while doing his job as a roofer.

Work injuries are covered under workers’ compensation law and its unique set of rules, one of the most significant being that lawsuits are not allowed. The man who is injured while working can file a workers’ compensation claim with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. His employer most likely carries insurance, which will pay him (assuming his claim is approved) for medical bills, lost wages and a settlement amount if his injury is permanent.

The man who fell off his neighbor’s roof while lending a hand can sue his neighbor. He would have to prove fault – that his neighbor was at least negligent in causing his fall. His case would go to court to be decided by a judge or jury. In order to get medical bills covered, he would have to prove his case, including the amount of his financial harm. He may be able to win pain and suffering damages, as well. Pain and suffering damages are not available in a work accident.

Fault doesn’t matter in a workers’ compensation case. If the roofer made a careless mistake, causing his fall, he will still get benefits. If his employer’s equipment was old, and that was the cause of the fall, he cannot sue his employer. A claim for benefits is the only option in most cases. An employer can dispute a claim, not because it’s not their fault, but based on the argument that it wasn’t actually a work injury or that the injury is not what the worker claims. If there is a dispute, an arbitrator (similar to a judge) hears arguments and makes a decision

We are workers’ compensation attorneys who help people with Illinois work injuries anywhere in IL via our statewide network of attorneys. Contact us and we will answer your questions or find the right lawyer for your situation.

By Michael Helfand