If you’ve been hurt at work, you may be wondering what your legal options are. If your employer has workers’ compensation insurance, your options are likely limited to filing a workers’ compensation claim. In this post, we’ll talk about why workers’ comp is considered the “exclusive remedy” to workplace injuries.
In Illinois, as in most other states, the workers’ compensation system was originally designed to be a compromise between workers and their employers. Workers who were injured on the job were offered coverage of medical bills and at least partial wage replacement for missed work in exchange for not suing their employer. Conversely, employers agreed to assume the costs of paying for worker injuries (through insurance) in exchange for immunity from employee lawsuits.
Workers’ compensation is called the “exclusive remedy” because it is the sole legal option for workers in response to a workplace injury (with the exception of some decades-old claims for diseases tied to toxic exposure in the workplace, but that is a topic for another post).
Why working with an attorney may be a wise investment
If you’ve been significantly injured on the job, it is critical to take full advantage of your workers’ compensation benefits precisely because you likely don’t have other legal options. While the workers’ compensation system is designed to be equally fair to workers and employers, the balance of power has shifted in recent decades in favor of employers and insurers.
Many legitimate claims filed by injured workers are denied for dubious reasons and must be appealed one or more times. This can be very difficult and time-consuming to handle on your own – particularly while also trying to recover from your injuries. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can guide you and advocate for you through the entire process, from initial claim through all necessary levels of appeal.
At the same time, your lawyer will ensure that your rights are protected and that you are not subjected to retaliation for filing a workers’ comp claim. Such actions are illegal, but they are more common than most people realize.
If you’ve been injured and don’t know what to do next, you might find it both valuable and comforting to simply discuss your options with an attorney. Given the financial stakes of an on-the-job injury, this is a fight you don’t want to face alone.