In general, yes. Illinois workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. Essentially, all that is required is that you be an employee of a company covered by workers’ comp and that you have been injured or sickened while on the job. You are generally covered even if you caused the accident that injured or sickened you.
Workers’ compensation is a way of ensuring that workers are fairly compensated for workplace injuries and occupational diseases while protecting employers from sudden, catastrophic liability. The way the system works is to remove the question of fault from the claim in all but the most egregious of cases.
Employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance or, in some cases, provide a self-insurance fund to cover these injuries and illnesses. In Illinois, virtually every employer is required to have this insurance.
Workers’ comp insurance pays out to the employee without consideration of fault. In exchange, the employee gives up the right to sue their employer for their injury or illness. It is this bargain that makes the system work.
You also don’t have to prove your employer was at fault
It generally does not matter if you were responsible for the event that caused you to be injured or sickened. It only matters that the event was work-related.
Likewise, you don’t have to prove your employer did anything wrong in order to receive workers’ compensation. Fault is generally irrelevant to your claim.
It is illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for claiming workers’ comp
If you have been injured or sickened by a job-related incident or condition, you may wonder what your employer might do if you make a claim. After all, your employer may need to keep injury rates down in order to maintain the same insurance premium, qualify for certain contracts, or in general. Your boss might not like it if you make a claim.
The good thing is that, in Illinois, it is illegal to retaliate against a worker in any way because they have exercised their right to make a workers’ comp claim. Your employer is not allowed to harass, fire, refuse to rehire or discriminate against you in any way after you have made a claim.
Exercise your rights but know the deadlines
If you are suffering from a workplace injury or occupational illness, you must notify your employer in writing within 45 days. After that, you have between two and three years to actually file your claim with your employer’s workers’ comp insurer, depending on what kind of illness or injury you have.
Your claim could be denied for any of several reasons. For example, your employer may claim that your illness or injury is not work-related. Or, your employer may claim that you are not actually ill or injured at all. If your claim is denied, it is a good idea to reach out to an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to appeal the denial.