One of the first things every employee in Illinois should know about workers’ compensation law is that it’s a no fault law. If you want to sue a doctor you have to prove the doctor was negligent. But to claim work comp benefits you don’t need to show anyone was negligent and you can still get benefits even if you were the one who caused the accident.
This principle was on display in a recent case of a worker at a gun store. He was a sales person and firearms instructor at a store with an on-site firing range. His job duties involved selling guns and ammunition and teaching others how to safely use guns.
One day he came in to work and loaded bullets in to the clip of a pistol. While he putting the gun in to a holster it went off and shot a bullet into his leg.
There is clearly nobody at fault here other than the injured worker. Maybe it was bad luck, maybe he was careless. Either way, this risk of injury was part of his employment. His boss encouraged workers to carry loaded firearms. The Arbitrator at trial found that the employer got a benefit from this, as it discouraged robbers and was also a helpful marketing tactic that lead to more sales.
The bottom line is that this accident and injury was a unique risk to his employment, so he was awarded benefits.
Fault simply does not matter when it comes to Illinois work comp cases. In exchange for that, you give up your employer for negligence. The only exception is if you are drunk/high or somehow engaging in “horseplay.” So if this worker was drunk he would have lost his case. If he was clearly goofing off when this happened, he would not have been awarded benefits.
Fortunately this injured worker did not die and nobody else got hurt. And fortunately for him, Illinois law is on his side and he doesn’t get punished for getting hurt while doing something his employer wanted him to do. All of his bills and lost time related to this injury were paid and he’s able to get a settlement for the permanent nature of his injury and how it will affect him in the future.
If you want to know if you have a case or are looking for representation, you can call us for free any time at 312-346-5578. We help with cases everywhere in Illinois.