Employers don’t like when their workers get injured on the job. And its not because they care about you and your well-being. We wish it was. Injured workers cost employers money. A good employer plans for this and knows that it’s part of doing business. But not all employers are good employers.
We hear from employees rather frequently who are facing the issue of an employer who is trying to avoid a work injury claim. These employers ask the employee to flat-out lie to their doctor about how they got hurt. The supervisor or boss will tell the employee to tell their doctor that they got hurt at home and to put the medical bills through their regular health insurance rather than filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. Or they’ll tell the worker that they’ll help them with their medical bills (but they never do). Chances are, they’ll aim to convince the employee that there is no downside to doing any of this, when in fact there is.
The benefits you get from your group health insurance aren’t tailored to work injuries. Under Illinois workers’ compensation law, on the other hand, injured employees are entitled to 100% coverage for all medical treatment related to their work injury. In addition, employees are entitled to payment of 2/3 of their wages if they are unable to work because of that injury. Also, many cases settle at the end of the claim based on any permanent affect the injury has on that employee.
Filing a claim is not a lawsuit against your employer. Don’t let them talk you out of it. Sometimes the employer takes a different approach and tells the employee that they don’t have worker’s compensation insurance. This might be a lie because the law in Illinois requires most employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance. You can verify their coverage fairly easily (and anonymously).
Another approach is to tell the worker that they aren’t eligible because they are an independent contractor. It’s true that independent contractors are not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. However, your employer might be calling you an independent contractor for his or her own benefit, when in fact you are an employee. Your title doesn’t matter; it’s how much control your employer has over your job. In other words, the law determines whether you are an employee or an independent contractor. Your employer doesn’t get to pick.
Look out for yourself. Know your rights under Illinois workers’ compensation law, and understand what you’re risking if you lie to help your employer. The law isn’t there just for employees. Employers benefit from this law, too, because it prohibits employees from filing lawsuits against them after a work injury. So don’t let them convince you that you owe them any favors.