A lot of what the general public knows about the law comes from things they hear about on TV or the movies or from other sources like the newspaper or the internet. So I don’t blame them when they ask about things that don’t apply to work comp law in Illinois.
The two most common things people want to get in their case that they can’t are punitive damages and pain and suffering. Those aren’t part of Illinois workers’ compensation law, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t get good compensation.
The most recent caller to ask about this was a worker who suffered carbon monoxide poisoning in their warehouse due to what appears to be negligence by the company. The caller was rightfully pissed off. The ER doctor told them that had they stayed in the warehouse much longer they could have died.
The caller wanted to know if they could get punitive damages because of the lack of care the company showed for their workers. Unfortunately that isn’t a thing.
A few months ago a nurse who ended up with a back fusion surgery from catching a falling patient. She was in so much pain and might not be able to work again. It was her goal to get pain and suffering payments for how this has affected her life.
For the nurse or any other worker, she will be able to get a settlement for her injury. It’s not called compensation for pain and suffering, but the settlement takes into account how the injury has impacted her life along with all of the medical care you had to receive. In other words, it’s not called pain and suffering, but it has the same affect because you are being given money for what you have gone through.
The warehouse worker will not get punitive damages since it’s not allowed in Illinois work comp law. The tradeoff is that you don’t have to prove negligence to get work comp benefits. In other words, he could have had CO2 poisoning because he made a mistake and he’d still be able to get work comp benefits.
You can file for what is called for penalties and fees if the insurance company denies benefits wrongly. It’s again similar to punitive damages, but it’s not called that.
Bottom line is that you shouldn’t care what the benefits are called. You should be happy that Illinois offers such great compensation and generally speaking takes care of injured workers. Beyond that, call us any time with questions at 312-346-5578. We are happy to let you know what can and can’t be done for you.