One of the basic premises of Illinois workers’ compensation law is that it’s a no fault law. That means in order to win benefits, you don’t have to prove your employer was negligent. Instead you have to show that your injuries arose out of your job (your job duties or something reasonably connected to your employment) and in the course of your job (while doing your job or as a result of your job).

Despite this, employers and their work comp insurance companies will try to come up with ways to say that you aren’t entitled to work comp benefits even though you were injured on the job.

In one case we were contacted on, a laborer got hit in the face with a falling brick and broke his nose. It happened in a snap and was just bad timing as he looked up when he heard his co-worker who dropped it yell. On the job site, hard hats are a requirement, but he had taken his off to wipe away some sweat and was holding it in his hand.

He filed for work comp with his boss, but told him that because he was hurt while committing a safety violation, he wasn’t eligible for benefits. That’s simply a lie, beyond the fact that it ignores the fact that a helmet likely wouldn’t have even prevented the injury.

You can commit a safety violation and still get workers’ compensation benefits. Remember, it’s a no fault law. Should he have had the helmet on? Yes. But he won’t lose his rights for not doing that.

Where safety violations matter is when you are being reckless or doing something that isn’t part of your job duties. For example, if you have access to a golf cart or other vehicle and drive crazy, taking sharp turns or speeding, a crash injury would likely not be a case.

If you are doing your work while drunk or high, that would most likely not be a case if being inebriated contributed to the accident. In other words, if you cut your hand while using a knife when drunk, that safety violation would kill your case. But if you are drunk and sitting at your work station when a forklift runs into you, it would still probably be a case.

But beyond that, workers aren’t expected to be perfect in order to get benefits. We’ve seen a lot of cases where instructions are to lift heavy objects in teams, but a worker hurts their back doing the job themselves. That’s still a case. And usually the reason they do it is because they were told to or there was nobody else there to help. Or they were just trying to get their work done.

The bottom line is that if anyone tells you that you aren’t eligible for work comp in Illinois for a safety violation or any other reason, be skeptical. We will always give you a free consultation to see if there’s a case or not. Call us at 312-346-5578 any time. We cover all of Illinois.