One of the most unfair things about the law that you can’t do anything about is the bad luck of the draw. If you are sitting at a stop light and get rear-ended by a person with $20,000 in insurance and become paralyzed, you are likely only going to recover that $20,000. On the other hand, if you are struck by a semi-truck or some other commercial vehicle, your case would likely be worth millions.
The same holds true when it comes to Illinois workers’ compensation cases. There was a sad case recently of a laborer whose foot got run over by a vehicle on the job. It was a really bad crush injury and his foot was amputated. Essentially at 28 years old, this worker has a life-altering injury and will never be the same.
Under work comp law, a case like this would probably be worth $500,000 or so plus payment of all of the medical bills. That’s no small settlement, but also doesn’t really compensate him for what he’s lost.
The “good” news, if there was any on this case, is that his foot wasn’t run over by a co-worker, but by a driver of a concrete truck that was with another company who was working on the same job.
Under Illinois work comp law, you can’t sue your employer or co-workers for general negligence so if it had been one of them that was responsible, there would not have been the possibility of a lawsuit. He would have been limited to only work comp benefits.
In this case he was able to sue the concrete company who had a massive insurance policy. As a result, right before the trial the case settled for $10 million. I’d personally rather have my foot, but this huge settlement will allow the young man to not have to worry about making a living in the future or how he will pay for his medical care.
Just like in my first example, if he was working on the highway when this happened and got hit by an every day driver with a small insurance policy, this big recovery never would have happened. Illinois work comp laws fill in the gaps a bit, but if you ever read about a huge settlement or trial result from a work injury, know that it’s because there was an outside company involved.
Bonus legal tip. Firms that do just work comp cases are great at those because it’s all they do. If you or a loved one is severely hurt by the negligence of a third party, most work comp firms aren’t right for you. We don’t try to take on those cases because we know that there are a lot of firms in Illinois who can get a better result based on their experience. So if you ever want our opinion on which firm is the right one to hire when you’ve been seriously hurt by someone other than your employer, please call us any time. We follow this closely and know the firms that get the best results.