I recently had a call from an injured Illinois worker who couldn’t understand why he had called ten firms and nobody wanted to take his case. He told me “I know the law and that Illinois is a no-fault state so I should have a great case.”

He was correct that Illinois workers’ compensation is a “no-fault” law, but he misunderstood what that actually means.

In his case, he had a heart attack while working, but his case was denied. He felt it was a workers’ compensation case because he was at work when it happened and works what he feels is a stressful job.

No fault unfortunately doesn’t mean that every accident or injury on the clock is covered by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. You still have to show that your injuries arose out of your employment which means something about your job put you at an increased risk of harm. The general stress of a tough job isn’t enough.

What no fault does mean is that you don’t have to prove someone else was negligent in order to get benefits. For example, under Illinois law for the general public, if you are hurt in a car accident, in order to sue and win you’d have to show the other driver was negligent. But if a car accident or any other accident happens on the job, you don’t have to show anyone was negligent. You just have to show you were doing your job duties when an accident occurred.

In other words, let’s say you are a FedEx delivery driver and while working you make a left turn into oncoming traffic and cause an accident. You get a ticket. You are at fault. If you break your leg during the accident, you’d be eligible for work comp benefits whereas if you did this in your own vehicle running errands you wouldn’t have a case at all.

The reason this is true is that Illinois work comp claims aren’t lawsuits, they are benefit cases. And under the law, in exchange for not having to prove fault in a work accident, you give up the right to sue your employer for negligence.

So we unfortunately could not help this one worker, but hopefully did help him understand what the law is. And we’d do the same for you. If you ever want to speak with an attorney for free, you can call us at 312-346-5578. All calls are free and confidential. And just like with this caller, we won’t tell you what you want to hear, but will tell you the truth and try to help any way we can.