Can You File an Injury Lawsuit After Collecting Workers’ Compensation in Illinois?

Illinois’ Workers’ Compensation system generally applies to anyone legally considered an “employee” who is injured at work. While you can also file a personal injury lawsuit, certain parties are shielded from liability.

If you are already collecting Workers’ Compensation benefits or are in the process of filing a claim, you can also file a personal injury lawsuit, but only against certain parties. Under Workers’ Compensation laws, employers and coworkers are usually shielded from liability, but third parties might still be sued. Common claims against third parties include product liability cases related to dangerous defective work equipment. If you file a Workers’ Compensation claim and a personal injury lawsuit, you may not recover damages for the same injuries twice. Generally, damages covered by the defendant may be partially used to reimburse Workers’ Compensation insurance. There is not necessarily a required order in which to file these claims, but many claimants file a lawsuit after a Workers’ Compensation claim.

If you are collecting Workers’ Compensation benefits, you can file a personal injury lawsuit to recover additional damages. For a free case review, call our Illinois personal injury attorneys. Call the Rhatigan Law Offices at (312) 578-8502.

Whom You Can and Cannot Sue After Collecting Workers’ Compensation in Illinois

Workers’ Compensation is designed to help injured employees while they are unable to work, but it also protects employers. Generally, injured employees cannot sue their employers under this system, but other parties might be fair game. Our Illinois workplace injury attorneys can help you begin a lawsuit against the appropriate parties.

Employers and Coworkers

Although it might be tempting to sue your employer for your injuries, they are usually shielded from liability under 820 I.L.C.S. § 305/2 of the Workers’ Compensation Act. Under the Workers’ Compensation system in this state, injured employees cannot sue their employers, and Workers’ Compensation claims are often required rather than an optional choice of legal action.

Similarly, coworkers are usually protected as well. For example, if you were injured at work because of a coworker’s negligence or mistake, you could file a Worker’s Compensation claim, but you could not sue the coworker.

You can only sue employers or coworkers under specific circumstances that allow you to circumvent the Workers’ Compensation system. If your employer does not carry the necessary Workers’ Compensation insurance, you could sue. Not only that, but Workers’ Compensation does not normally cover intentional acts. If your employer deliberately caused your injuries, our Lincoln Park personal injury attorneys can help you file a personal injury lawsuit.

Third Parties

Certain third parties can be sued even if you are already collecting Workers’ Compensation benefits or filing a claim. Workers’ Compensation laws do not usually protect third parties, and you may file a lawsuit in addition to your Workers’ Compensation claim.

Product liability claims are a common reason for many personal injury lawsuits related to workplace injuries. If you were injured because an item or product you use as part of your job malfunctioned, you can sue the manufacturer of that item. You can also sue other parties in the chain of sale, such as the retailer who sold it to you.

If you were injured because of a trespasser, you can file a lawsuit against the trespasser without running afoul of Workers’ Compensation rules. For example, if a passerby tried to take a shortcut through the construction site you were working on and caused an accident, our Evanston personal injury lawyers can help you sue the trespasser.

Does Workers’ Compensation Limit My Recoverable Damages in a Lawsuit in Illinois?

When filing a personal injury lawsuit against a third party and a Workers’ Compensation claim, the issue of damages is inevitably going to come up. Although both legal actions arise from the same workplace accident, you may not be compensated twice for the same injuries. While Workers’ Compensation insurance carried by your employer covers some economic losses, a personal injury lawsuit may help you recover additional losses.

Workers’ Compensation claims typically only pay for medical costs and a portion of lost wages. Non-economic injuries like pain and suffering are not covered. A personal injury lawsuit not only helps you recover the full extent of your economic losses but non-economic damages as well.

The issue becomes complicated when you seek damages for the same injuries from two sources. While Workers’ Compensation covers a portion of your lost wages, you might also claim lost wages from a third party.

Under the collateral fault rule upheld by the Illinois Supreme Court in Wills v. Foster, the defendant in your lawsuit should not benefit from the fact that your insurance paid for some of your damages. For example, if you lost $5,000 in wages, Workers’ Compensation usually covers about two-thirds of the total loss. You may also recover the full $5,000 from the third-party defendant, but the insurance company can be reimbursed for the money they already paid you.

When to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit After a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Illinois

There is not necessarily a rule for which claim you must file first. Often, injured workers file Workers; Compensation claims first, and then file personal injury lawsuits later. This might be because Workers’ Compensation claims need to be reported to employers immediately, and claims tend to be filed quickly. Personal injury lawsuit, while also time-sensitive, can be filed a bit later.

The statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits under 735 I.L.C.S. § 5/13-202 is 2 years. This means you have 2 years from the date you are injured to file a lawsuit against a third party. This time frame might allow our Illinois workplace injury attorneys to prepare your lawsuit while you file a Workers’ Compensation claim. Additionally, you can start receiving Workers’ Compensation benefits to help you get by while awaiting your personal injury case.

Call Our Illinois Workplace Injury Attorneys

Injuries at work are complicated, and you can potentially recover damages from Workers’ Compensation and a personal injury lawsuit, depending on the circumstances. Our Chicago personal injury attorneys can assist you in filing a lawsuit while you also collect Workers’ Compensation benefits. For a free case review, call the Rhatigan Law Offices at (312) 578-8502.