What Happens if I’m Injured at Work and My Deadbeat Employer Does Not Have Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
The short answer is that an injured employee working for a deadbeat employer is entitled to the same benefits as any other injured worker. Ironically, the compensation available to a worker whose employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance can even be greater than what is available to a covered employee.
How can this be? The answer is simple. Illinois’ state legislature has seen fit to punish deadbeat employers who break the law by failing to provide workers’ compensation insurance. The punishment consists of fines and allowing the worker to sue her employer. The legislature’s intent is to provide a strong incentive for employers to provide workers’ compensation insurance, while at the same time protecting injured workers.
The first wave of protection falls under the Injured Workers’ Benefit Fund. The Injured Workers’ Benefit Fund is funded by fines collected from employers who neglect to provide workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. Thus far, every worker who has been represented by my firm has received 100% of the benefits that are available to him. The credit goes to diligent work by our attorneys as well as the Illinois Attorney General’s office for cracking down and collecting fines from deadbeat employers.
The second wave of protection is also provided for under the Workers’ Compensation Act. Typically, a worker’s only option if she is injured on the job is to pursue a workers’ compensation claim. This is known as the employee’s “exclusive remedy”. There are only two exceptions to the exclusive remedy provision of the Act. The first exception is when the employer intentionally hurts his worker. The second exception is when the employer does not carry workers’ compensation insurance.
Why is losing the exclusive remedy protection significant? The types of damages available to an injured worker in civil court are more extensive than what is available under the Workers’ Compensation Act. For example, in addition to recovering lost wages and medical bills, an injured worker can now recover damages for pain and suffering and disability. The end result can be a judgment far in excess of what could have been recovered if the “exclusive remedy” was a workers’ compensation claim.
If you are injured while working for an employer who does not have workers’ compensation insurance, do not give up. The lawyers at Woodruff Johnson & Palermo have a proven track record of recovering full compensation for injured workers from deadbeat employers.