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What is Worker's Compensation?

Workers' compensation has been a long-standing law in Illinois to insure that employees are paid for injuries sustained in the course of their employment. Balanced against this assurance is the forfeiture of an employee's right to sue his employer for his on-the-job injuries and to have a jury decide the amount of damages. Under the workers' compensation scheme in Illinois, employees may automatically recover for employment-related injuries without proving that the employer was at fault in any way. The amount of the recovery is dictated by a specific schedule according to the employee's injury and disability, but there is a cap on some of these amounts.

There are a number of issues that can be raised by the employer to defeat an employee's workers' compensation claim. Under some circumstances the employer might question whether the worker was actually acting within the scope or course of his employment. In other words, was the employee engaged in the affairs of the employer or the furtherance of the business? This question comes up in situations when the employee's job requires him to be off the premises or to travel for work. An example would be where the employee, while traveling between jobs, stops for a meal and gets injured in the parking lot. Is this still within the course of employment or a "frolic" outside of the employment and, consequently, outside of the Workers' Compensation Act? The answer depends on the type of work an employee does. A traveling salesperson would likely be compensated under the Act, while a factory employee who works on the premises but runs off the premises for a coffee break and gets hurt would not be compensated.

An employer may claim that the work-related accident is not the cause of the employee's physical condition. However, the accident does not have to be the sole cause or even the main cause of the employee's physical condition. It simply must be a cause. In some instances, the courts have found that a suicide was related to a work injury.

Despite the fact that the Act provides that workers' compensation is the exclusive remedy for the employee, the employee may prevail on arguments that overcome such exclusivity. In a recent case, an employee of a hospital argued that the hospital was serving in a dual capacity when it put his name on a prescription bottle of AZT medication, left notes regarding his HIV status on another employee's desk, discussed his test results with his supervisor, and identified him in an incident report. The court determined that the hospital was acting in a second capacity as that of a medical provider and that it owed the employee the same duty under the AIDS Confidentiality Act as it would to any other patient.

Workers' compensation laws in Illinois insure that employees who suffer work-related injuries are compensated for those injuries. The laws also provide employers with defenses to help defeat fraudulent claims.

This website is not intended to constitute legal advice or the provision of legal services. By posting and/or maintaining the website and its contents, Lucas Law does not intend to solicit business from clients located in states or jurisdictions outside of Illinois wherein Lucas Law or its individual attorney(s) are not licensed or authorized to practice law.

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