Before we had workers’ compensation laws, injured workers would have
to file lawsuits against their employers. Doing this meant proving the
employer’s negligence, which was a long and arduous process.
After the Industrial Revolution, America saw an explosion in industrial
accidents and legislatures soon realized that the laws regarding injured
or sickened workers needed reform. In the early 20th century, workers’
compensation laws were established and these laws have been evolving ever since.
Today’s workers’ compensation system allows injured workers
to file claims regardless of their own negligence or degree of fault,
but at the same time the workers’ compensation laws protect employers
by shielding them from employee lawsuits.
In Illinois, workers compensation provides
most employees with benefits if they have sustained a work-related injury or occupational
disease. As mentioned above, workers generally receive benefits without
regard to fault, unless they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol
at the time of the incident.
Who is covered by workers’ compensation?
In Illinois, most employees who are injured during the course of their
work are covered by the Workers’ Compensation Act. If an employee
qualifies, he or she is said to be covered from the moment they being
their job, even if it is their first day.
The benefits provided by workers’ compensation include:
- Necessary medical treatment
- Temporary total disability benefits
- Temporary partial disability benefits
- Benefits for vocational rehabilitation/maintenance
- Permanent partial disability benefits
- Permanent total disability benefits
- Death benefits for the decedent’s surviving family members
Employers Pay for Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Under Illinois law, employers are responsible for paying the costs of workers’
compensation. Generally, an employer purchases workers’ compensation
insurance, and if a worker is injured, the insurance company will pay
the benefits on the employer’s behalf.
Some employers will receive approval from the state to self-insure. In
that case, the employer has to pay its own claims if a worker is injured
or becomes ill with an occupational disease.
By law, employers ar required to: 1) purchase workers’ compensation
insurance or obtain permission to insure themselves, 2) post a notice
about coverage in the workplace, and 3) keep detailed records of any employee
injuries and report them to the Commission if the resulted in more than
three days of lost workdays.
Failure to Carry Workers' Comp Insurance
If an employer fails to comply with the state workers’ compensation
laws, they will face sanctions. According to the Commission,
negligent failure to carry workers’ comp is a
Class A misdemeanor for each day without coverage (up to 12 months behind bars and a $2,500 fine).
Knowingly failing to provide workers’ compensation is a
Class 4 felony, punishable by up to 3 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. An uninsured
employer can also face civil penalties of $500 for every day they went
without proper coverage, with a minimum fine of $10,000.
Do you have questions about the insurance requirements and penalties that
apply to your
startup or business? For legal advice from a Chicago business law attorney,
contact Rifkind Patrick LLC!