In Illinois, if you are injured in a work accident, you can check and see if your employer has workers’ compensation insurance by going to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (“Commission”) website here. Type in the date of the accident and your employer’s exact name and this will usually tell you if they had insurance and if so, from which company. It is important to note that sometimes this does not end the inquiry and more investigation should be done. A seasoned Chicago workers’ comp attorney can look into this for you.
If you do find out that your employer does not have insurance, the law may allow you to sue your employer directly in court on a negligence case and ask for damages such as pain and suffering. Pain and suffering are not available in a workers’ compensation case filed at the Commission. An employer that knowingly fails to obtain insurance loses its protections under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. An employee who is injured during the time the employer was uninsured may sue the employer in civil court, where benefits are unlimited. In addition, during the trial the burden will be upon the employer to prove it was not negligent.
In addition, Section 4(d) of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act states an employer who knowingly and willfully fails to obtain insurance may be fined up to $500 for every day of noncompliance, with a minimum fine of $10,000. Corporate officers can be held personally liable if the company fails to pay the penalty. Further, corporate officers who are found to have negligently failed to obtain insurance are guilty of a Class A misdemeanor; if they are found to have knowingly failed to obtain insurance, they are guilty of a Class 4 felony. The Commission may issue a work-stop order on an employer that has been found to have knowingly failed to provide insurance. The employer must then stop all business operations until it provides proof of insurance.
If you find out you have been injured in Chicago, and are wondering if your employer has insurance, and what to do next, feel free to call or email me.
Also, if you have questions about workers’ compensation cases in general, see my previous article What to Do After Being Injured at Work.