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Archive for November, 2013

Workers Compensation and Retaliatory Discharge in Illinois

November 28th, 2013 at 1:20 pm

The state of Illinois protects workers and their right to file worker’s compensation claims without fear of reprisal. Ordinarily, employers in Illinois can discharge employees for any cause or even no cause at all, a condition which the law refers to as “at-will” employment. The statute in Illinois that governs worker’s compensation claims makes a specific exception to the normal doctrine of at-will employment that prevents employers from firing an employee in retaliation for their filing for worker’s compensation.

 In order for an injured plaintiff to access this safe harbor and receive compensation for their retaliatory discharge, they need to show three things. First, the plaintiff must show that the company employed them at the time of the injury. Second, the employee must show that they filed for worker’s compensation. Finally, the employee must show that their employer terminated their employment, and that their filing for worker’s compensation caused that termination.

Showing Employment

Showing that the company employed the plaintiff seems easy enough, and in many cases it actually is. But, it gets a little more difficult in some cases because the law distinguishes between employees and independent contractors. Generally speaking, the difference between the two is the amount of control the employer exerts over their actions, with employees being more closely supervised than independent contractors. Additionally, some employers attempt to classify people incorrectly by referring to employees as independent contractors, but just because they call someone an independent contractor does not make them one. Instead, the judge will make a classification during the case.

Showing Worker’s Compensation Filing

Showing that the plaintiff made a worker’s compensation filing, again, tends to happen easily enough, but some odd cases do exist. It is sufficient if the employee can produce documents showing that they went through with a filing, but the law actually extends beyond that. If the employee discusses filing a claim, or even if the employer merely learns about the injury and fires the employee out of fear for a worker’s compensation claim, then that may trigger this protection as well.

Showing Cause of Termination

An employee’s filing of a worker’s compensation claim does not, on its own, prove that the employer fired them because of the claim. Instead, the employee must produce some sort of evidence demonstrating that their filing the claim substantially or significantly contributed to the firing.

Legal Help

If you believe that you have an injury that makes you eligible for worker’s compensation, or if you think you may have suffered a retaliatory discharge for filing a worker’s compensation claim, contact an experienced Illinois worker’s compensation attorney today. They can help you get the compensation you deserve.

Illinois Truck Driver Receives Worker’s Compensation after Fainting on the Road

November 21st, 2013 at 1:19 pm

The Illinois Workers Compensation Commission recently reversed an arbitrator’s decision to deny worker’s compensation to a truck driver who was injured in a traffic accident that happened while he was transporting cargo. It offers a helpful example for those hoping to learn more about the system.

  The Case

The driver began to feel ill while behind the wheel of his truck. As he attempted to pull off the road, he fainted, resulting in injuries to his neck, back, left leg. The arbitrator initially denied benefits because they considered the driver’s fainting an “idiopathic incident,” which means that some condition of the worker’s caused the injury rather than something related to the worker’s job. Ordinarily, such incidents would not be covered by worker’s compensation because worker’s compensation only covers accidental injuries “arising out of and in the course of employment.” Because an idiopathic injury results from a condition of the worker’s, it does not arise out of their employment.

 The driver in question appealed the arbitrator’s decision to the Illinois Worker’s Compensation Commission, which decided to reverse it, awarding compensation to the driver. The Commission reasoned that, even though the injury qualified as idiopathic, the nature of the trucker’s job placed him at a significantly greater risk of injury. This greater risk meant that the injury arose out of the employee’s work.

 The Commission also made several other important points about why this particular injury qualified for compensation. First, the Commission pointed out that injuries that happen during a commute do not normally result in compensation. This particular incident differs because the Commission recognized the trucker as a “travelling employee,” which means that the employee needed to travel for their job, and that they travel on a routine basis. According to the Commission, this means that the considered the car crash happened in the course of the trucker’s employment. The Commission also referred to the trucker’s response to the incident as part of the reason that they awarded him compensation. As soon as he began to feel ill, he attempted to pull into a rest stop to avoid the dangerous situation. While, unfortunately, he did not succeed in preventing harm, the Commission took notice of the fact that he took all the steps he reasonably could to avoid injuring himself or others.

 If you believe that you or someone that you know may be eligible for worker’s compensation, do not go through it alone. Get in contact with an Illinois attorney with experience getting employees compensation for their work related injuries. It can make all the difference.

What If My Employer Failed To Carry Workers Compensation Insurance?

November 11th, 2013 at 5:53 pm

Workers compensation insurance is designed to protect you, the employee, from injuries and illnesses sustained while on the job. Workplace injuries can be serious and alter the lives of an employee and his or her family forever. In most states, employers are required to keep active workers compensation insurance for their employees. There are penalties for failing to carry workers compensation insurance.

 Any employer who purposefully and willfully fails to carry insured can be fined up to $500 for each day of noncompliance. The minimum fine for this lack of compliance is $10,000.  Additionally, corporate officers found to be negligently associated with the failure to obtain insurance can be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor, and these officers can be held responsible if the company fails to pay the penalty they are assessed with regards to noncompliance.

If an employer does not carry the necessary workers compensation insurance, that employer also forfeits their protections under the Workers Compensation Act. If an employee is injured during the time period under which the employer does not have workers compensation insurance, that employee can sue the employer in civil court (and in civil court, benefits can be unlimited). During the process of that civil trial, the burden of proof will be on the employer to prove that he or she was not negligent in their behavior. Additionally, if an employer is discovered to have gone without workers compensation insurance, the Illinois Workers Compensation Commission can issue a “work stop” order to force the employer to stop all business operations until proof of insurance has been submitted.

If you think you have the grounds for a workers compensation claim after a workplace injury or illness, it’s recommended that you consult quickly with an Illinois workers compensation attorney. Filing promptly is critical for staying within guidelines.

 

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