• Strong Law

How Do I Get Paid When My Employer Fails to Maintain Workers' Comp Insurance?

Updated: Oct 27

Injured employees may still have a way to recover compensation after workplace accidents if their employer has failed to maintain the legally required workers' compensation insurance. If an injured worker's employer is uninsured, the employees has the right to file a personal injury lawsuit against the company.

Companies Must Maintain Workers' Compensation Insurance

Illinois law requires nearly all employers to maintain workers' compensation insurance to compensate victims for job-related injuries. The system benefits both employees because workers are entitled to compensation, regardless of who was at fault for the workplace accident. Employers are protected from personal injury lawsuits as part of the Grand Bargain. However, workers' compensation insurance does not provide the same level of benefits that victims can receive when filing a personal injury lawsuit.

It is in the employer's best interest to pay for workers' compensation insurance. Without it, companies could face liability for the full amount of a victim's lost wages, all necessary medical expenses, the injured worker's pain and suffering, and more. Additionally, since workers' compensation insurance is required for most employers in Illinois, companies that fail to maintain the protection could face substantial penalties.

Two Alternatives for Recovering Compensation

If an employer does not have workers' compensation insurance coverage, injured workers generally have two options to recover damages.

Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit Against the Employer

An injured worker may be able to work with Illinois workers' compensation lawyers to file a personal injury lawsuit against the employer. The employee would need to prove that the employer was negligent and that the negligence caused the injury for a lawsuit to be successful. To take legal action, there needs to be a determination that the employer willfully failed to obtain insurance. This is called a “Keating Hearing,” and it is a prerequisite for filing a lawsuit.

Filing a Claim with the Injured Workers' Benefit Fund

The Injured Workers' Benefit Fund uses fines and penalties that are collected from uninsured employers in the state to help employees who were hurt on the job pay for medical bills and replace a portion of their lost wages. Payment is based on the amount of money in the fund and doesn't guarantee workers the full amount of benefits that would be available by filing a workers' comp claim. Generally, the injured worker receives a lump sum payment from the fund as a final award.

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