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Is workers' compensation the "exclusive remedy" for an injured Illinois worker? P.1

When a worker is injured on the job, the ability to obtain accommodation and adequate compensation is one of the biggest concerns. The workers' compensation system, as readers probably know, is a no-fault system which is built upon a fundamental compromise between workers and employers. Workers, in exchange for the right to sue their employers for on-the-job injuries, obtain the right to a more efficient and predictable process for obtaining compensation.

What this means is that, under Illinois law, employees covered by workers' compensation law are generally not able to pursue damages at common law or under any statute. This is known as the sole or exclusive remedy doctrine, since workers' compensation is generally the only remedy available to an injured employee. There are, however, certain exceptions that have been recognized by the courts. 

One exception to the exclusive remedy doctrine is for situations where the injury was not accidental. Injures which result from intentional acts of the employer, therefore, can potentially constitute an exception to the rule. Exactly what constitutes such an intentional act is not something we can tackle here in this blog post. Suffice it to say that it is important to work with an experienced attorney for guidance and advocacy.

Another possible exception is situations where the injury or injuries in question did not arise out of and in the course of the worker's employment. Situations where the employee was injured, but the injury was not tied to his or her work duties, could potentially fall outside the scope of workers' compensation coverage. Here again, the limits of this exception are something that should be left to the expertise of an experienced attorney.

In our next post, we'll continue this discussion by looking at two other potential exceptions to the exclusivity doctrine.

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