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When Can I Sue My Employer Outside of Workers' Compensation in Illinois?

Palatine lawsuits outside of workers' compensation 

Arlington Heights Injury Attorney Explains Suing Outside of Workers' Compensation 

Ordinarily, workers who suffer injuries in the workplace may only recover money through workers' compensation rather than through a lawsuit. While that is the typical rule, some exceptions exist. Those exceptions include:

  • An injury stemming from a defective product could lead to a lawsuit against the product's manufacturer
  • An injury that resulted from a toxic substance could support a suit against the substance's producer
  • If the injury resulted from an intentional or egregious act by the employer, then the employee could sue.
  • If the employer does not have workers' compensation insurance, then the employee may sue.
  • And, if a third party caused the injury, the employee could sue that person.

These exceptions exist because, while workers' compensation can provide disability payments, it will not compensate people for suffering, nor will it provide extra damages to punish particularly bad conduct by the employer.

Defective Product Injuries

Workers whose injuries resulted from a defective product or machine, such as a piece of factory equipment that breaks and causes them to lose a hand, may be able to sue the maker of the equipment in addition to collecting workers' compensation. They could also file a complaint with OSHA to report the unsafe working conditions, especially if the employer did not take the defective device out of service after the accident.

Toxic Substance Injuries

Employees' jobs often expose them to a variety of substances. Some of these chemicals include asbestos or benzene that can cause harm to the worker, for which they can sue the compound's producer. The sorts of injuries that these substances cause come in two forms, acute and latent. Acute injuries appear shortly after exposure, like a burn after being exposed to a powerful acid. Latent injuries can take years to appear after the initial exposure, such as cancer. Regardless of which type of injury, both can form the basis of a lawsuit as long as the employee can prove the chemical caused the disease.

Intentional and Egregious Employer Conduct

The law may also allow for suits in cases where the employer injured the employee intentionally or where the employer's conduct was grossly negligent. These cases could include an argument between a boss and employee that leads to a fistfight, or an employer sending an employee into an obviously dangerous situation while refusing or ignoring requests for protective equipment.

When an Employer Does Not Have Workers' Compensation Insurance

An employee can also recover via lawsuit if the employer does not carry workers' compensation insurance. This changes the equation in a couple ways. In a lawsuit, the employee will need to prove that the employer caused the employee's injury, which workers' compensation does not require. But, if the employee can prove that, then he or she stands to receive more compensation than he or she would receive under the typical workers' comp process.

Contact Newland & Newland, LLP

Injuries in the workplace are not always caused by the company or the conditions. Sometimes an unrelated party can injure someone on the job. For instance, a delivery driver could be involved in a car accident. If the other driver caused the accident, then the employee may be able to sue that driver.

For help with workers' compensation questions in Illinois, contact Newland & Newland, LLP at 847-797-8000 today. Our knowledgeable legal team can help get you relief even for workplace injuries that might be outside of workers' compensation. We have offices in Arlington Heights, Libertyville, Chicago, and Itasca for your convenience.

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