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Should I File a Workers’ Compensation Claim or a Personal Injury Claim?

If you have been injured on the job in Chicago, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. However, you may also have a personal injury claim; and, unlike workers’ compensation benefits, personal injury damages are not limited by law. So, should you file a workers’ compensation claim or a personal injury claim? Can you file both? Here’s what you need to know:

1. Limitations on Workers’ Compensation Benefits Under Illinois Law

The reason why injured workers need to consider filing personal injury claims is that workers’ compensation benefits do not cover all of the costs associated with job-related injuries. In Illinois, workers’ compensation covers:

  • Medical expenses related to your on-the-job injury;
  • Partial wage-replacement benefits (referred to as “partial disability” or “total disability”); and,
  • Vocational rehabilitation if you need help in order to return to work.

Workers’ compensation does not cover 100 percent of your lost wages. It also does not cover pain and suffering, emotional trauma, or any of the types of non-financial losses that can be recovered in a personal injury lawsuit. As a result, before you decide to rely solely on workers’ compensation, it is critical that you speak with an attorney about your legal rights.

2. Employer Immunity from Personal Injury Lawsuits

While Illinois’ “no-fault” workers’ compensation law requires employers to provide benefits for the vast majority of work-related injuries, it also provides employers with immunity from employees’ personal injury lawsuits. This means that, if you are eligible for workers’ compensation, you cannot file a personal injury lawsuit against your employer in most cases. However, there are exceptions (for example, if it can be shown that your employer intentionally caused your injury), and it is important not to write off the possibility of suing your employer until you receive competent legal advice from an experienced work injury attorney.

Additionally, while Illinois’ workers’ compensation statute limits employees’ ability to sue their employers for job-related injuries, it does not limit their ability to sue other responsible parties. As a result, injured workers will often be able to file personal injury claims against:

  • Contractors and subcontractors
  • Product manufacturers
  • Building and job site owners
  • Negligent vehicle drivers

3. Seeking Workers’ Compensation Benefits and Personal Injury Damages

If you are eligible for workers’ compensation and you have a personal injury claim against a third party, can you file both types of claims? Yes, absolutely. While you may ultimately be required to repay some or all of your workers’ compensation benefits if your personal injury claim is successful, by filing both types of claims, you can start collecting benefits quickly while also asserting your right to maximum compensation.

Contact Our Chicago Law Offices to Learn More

At Jackowiak Law Offices, we provide experienced legal representation for injured workers in the Chicago area. If you have been injured on the job and would like to speak with a work injury lawyer in confidence, you can call (312) 795-9595 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation.