First things first.  We are for injured workers only. We don’t advise or represent employers or insurance companies. If you ended up on this page because an employee got hurt, we are the wrong firm for you if you are looking out for the employer’s interests.  The only advice we can give you is to call your insurance company.

Now that that is out of the way, in most businesses, the owner of the company is also an employee.  Sometimes they are suits sitting in an office and other times they are in the thick of things with their workers. Inevitably, they will also get hurt, especially when they do heavy duty work.

The owner of a construction company called me recently after getting a hernia from a big day of lifting on the job.  He’s facing surgery and understandably doesn’t want to pay for the out of pocket costs if he doesn’t have to.  He was filling out a form and saw the case would essentially be him vs. him. That didn’t make sense to him so he called to see if he can even bring a case.

The answer is that it depends on what decision he made when he got insurance.  Owners of at least 5% of a company in Illinois can opt out of workers compensation coverage.  They usually do it because insurance rates are based in part on the wages of employees. If the owner earns more than anyone, opting out could save them short term money. Of course long term it will cost you much more if you get hurt.

I usually advise only white collar workers who aren’t in industries where injuries often occur to opt out.  But even then if you travel a lot, you are really at risk.

The good news for my caller is that he did not opt out.  That means he will be treated like any other worker when it comes to bringing a case. He can get 100% of his medical bills paid, compensation for his time off of work and a settlement.  The only slight difference is that he’d normally be the contact person they’d speak to when investigating a claim.  Obviously he’s not going to say anything that would hurt his case.  So the job of the insurance company is slightly harder, but that’s not his problem.

I’ve actually seen cases where owners filed claims that I thought might be fought, but the insurance company appeared to roll over because they didn’t want to lose the business of the company.  That’s not how it should work, but it is how it really works which is all that matters in the end.