There are a lot of factors in Illinois work injury cases that won’t cause you to lose your case necessarily, but also won’t help things run as smooth as we’d like them to be. For example, if you don’t notify your boss of a work injury until four weeks after you are hurt, that is technically within the legal time limits to report an injury, but can also raise some red flags.

Another tricky situation is when you are paid under the table working for cash.  Illinois workers’ compensation benefits for time off work is called temporary total disability or TTD. This payment along with the rate used to calculate your settlement is based on your provable average weekly wage. If you make $52,000 a year on a salaried job, your average weekly wage is $1,000 and it’s a straightforward calculation.

Hourly based workers have to calculate their wages based on hours worked and occasionally overtime pay. That’s a little more difficult than with a salaried worker, but there are typically timesheets kept by the employer that makes everything clear.

But when a worker is paid by cash, there aren’t typically timesheets kept or any records. Often we hear from callers that the arrangement is something like, “He paid me $750.00 cash a week” but upon further investigation, there were some weeks it was more, some weeks less and some weeks when no work was done at all. Nobody kept records and there’s no real proof of what happened. So if you get hurt while working, you can say that you were an employee and argue you are entitled to benefits based on whatever wage you think you got. But in the end, it’s often your word against theirs and it can be hard to prove.

The good news is that generally speaking, Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission Arbitrators don’t like to reward employers that pay their employees under the table. So if your testimony is credible and you have any evidence, you stand a good chance of winning.

The other under-the-table payments that cause problems are those who get paid via check, but also get tips. For some workers like baggage handlers or bartenders, it’s a huge part of their compensation.  And in those industries, there’s at times a code of not disclosing how much you make in tips because almost all of these workers are not paying income tax based on their actual income. Other times we’ve worked with bartenders and waiters (and occasionally strippers) who want to testify that they earned more money than they declared, but can lose out based on their official statements. In those cases, it helps if your employer or another co-worker will confirm your payments.

In sum, under-the-table workers are entitled to Illinois work comp benefits. Employers don’t get out of their responsibilities by breaking the law. These cases can be harder, but they are still cases.