In Illinois, workers’ compensation law gives workers certain benefits if they are injured on the job. One major benefit in many cases is payment of 2/3 of your average weekly wage until you’re well enough to return to work. But many people have more than one job. What happens if you get hurt at one job and it prevents you from working at your second job? Can you expect any additional help from workers’ compensation to cover those lost wages, as well?

If you are working more than one job, you are still entitled to the same help to get you back on your feet. Illinois law says that employees can collect lost wage benefits for a second job, even if the injury didn’t occur at that job. There is a catch, however. You can only collect wage benefits related to your second job if your employer at your first job, where you were hurt, knew about your second job.

Let’s say you work overnight on a loading dock and you have a second job during the day driving a delivery truck for a different employer. One night you get hurt while unloading boxes. It’s a back injury and your doctor says that you can’t do any lifting, and you can’t drive. You rely on both jobs to pay the bills but your injury prevents you from doing either, at least until you recover. If your boss at the loading dock knew about your second job as a delivery driver, then you can include those wages for calculating your benefits checks. If that employer didn’t know, you probably won’t be allowed to collect benefits related to the delivery job. 

There are a few other things to keep in mind. For one, part-time employees are covered under workers’ compensation laws in Illinois, and there is no rule that requires you to work for your employer for a certain amount of time before qualifying. Independent contractors, on the other hand, are not entitled to benefits. Make sure you are truly an independent contractor before giving up on any benefits, however, because employers don’t always properly label their workers. And volunteers generally aren’t entitled to benefits under Illinois law.

Benefits are paid out by your employer, or their insurance company in many cases. Don’t rely on them to accurately calculate your average weekly wage. It’s in their best interest to pay you less, which is obviously not in your best interest. They might try to avoid paying based on wages from more than one job, for example. Other issues include bonuses and overtime and whether those get included, as well. The good thing about hiring an experienced workers’ compensation attorney is that they should know all the little tricks the insurance company tries to get away with. You need someone on your side who knows how the game is played.