Every year, many Illinois workers incur injuries that allow them to receive compensation under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. An employee is able to acquire benefits under this legislation regardless of whether the accident was the fault of the employee or the employer. However, in some cases, the fault lies not within either of these parties but with another entity or person. When this happens, the injured employee can file a third-party lawsuit against this person or entity.
Examples of third-party lawsuits
There are several different situations in which an employee could suffer injuries that would justify filing a third-party lawsuit. Some of these include:
Construction accidents. A construction worker incurs injuries as a result of unsafe practices instigated by the contractor on-site.
Slip and fall accidents. A truck driver slips and falls on an uneven surface while delivering goods to a customer.
Car accidents. An employee going to visit a client is injured in a car accident caused by a negligent driver.
Products liability. A worker incurs injuries after using a faulty piece of industrial equipment.
In addition to filing a lawsuit against the party at fault, the injured worker is still eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits from their employer on the basis that they will not sue them for damages.
Injured workers’ rights and limitations
The difference between third-party lawsuits and the compensation an employee receives from their employer is that the benefits they obtain from their employer are limited. Typically, compensation for injured workers under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act can only be acquired for medical expenses, temporary disability and permanent disability.
In comparison, when an injured employee files a lawsuit against someone other than their employer due to a workplace accident, they are eligible to receive a full range of damages. This can include compensation for disability, disfigurement, medical expenses, pain and suffering and lost wages. However, in order for an employee to receive compensation, they must be able to prove that the third-party was negligent. For instance, in slip and fall cases, the Illinois Premises Liability Act states the injured person must show proof that the owner of the property failed to warn the employee of any dangers or take reasonable precautions to protect the employee from dangers they were unaware of.
Injured employees should also keep in mind that their employer has the right to receive a portion of the settlement they received from the third-party lawsuit.