Differences in Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation Cases in Illinois

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Illinois personal injury cases and workers’ compensation cases have significant differences between them. Some of the key distinctions between these two types of cases are:

Purpose of the Case

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act was established to help injured workers receive medical treatment and limited damages as a result of a work-related accident. The Act was borne out of compromises between the labor force and businesses, including that the employee would have a lower burden to meet in order to receive workers’ compensation benefits and workers agreeing that the types of monetary compensation would be limited. Illinois employers are required to maintain workers’ compensation insurance coverage over their workers, and the insurance company is to pay out benefits for valid claims.

The purpose of personal injury cases is to allow an accident victim to recover for the injuries that he or she suffered by receiving monetary compensation. Personal injury claims include injuries stemming from car accidents, slips and falls, dog bites and other accidents. The court system seeks to make a victim whole again after an accident by compensating him or her for property damage, medical expenses and lost wages that he or she would not have sustained if the accident did not occur. The victim may also be able to recover damages for pain and suffering.

Proving a Case

In a workers’ compensation case, the injured worker has the burden to prove that his injury was the result an accident that occurred during his or her performance of job duties. This does not require him or her to establish fault or negligence on the part of the employer or even that the employer did anything to cause his or her injury. He or she in essence has to prove that the injury occurred on the job while he or she was doing what he or she was supposed to be doing.

In a personal injury case, the victim must usually have to establish that the defendant was negligent in some way. This requires showing that the defendant did not act with the necessary care to prevent an injury. For example, a driver may have been speeding, a business may not have checked for spills on the floor or a doctor may not have run certain tests to properly diagnose a patient. The victim must establish the level of care that was required under the circumstances and must show how the defendant’s level of care fell below this standard. He or she must also be able to establish that the breach of the standard of care caused the accident and that he or she suffered some type of quantifiable damages.

Damages that Are Recoverable

Injured employees under workers’ compensation claims may be entitled to different types of damages. His or her work-related injury medical bills should be paid for. Additionally, if he or she is unable to return to work, the employee is entitled to receive two-thirds of his or her average weekly salary while off work. These are called Temporary Total Disability benefits. If the injured worker suffers a permanent disability as a result of the injury, he or she may be entitled to receive monetary compensation for permanent partial disability. Workers’ compensation does not provide for compensation for pain or suffering inconvenience or the impact that the injury has on the worker’s personal life.

The potential damages available in a personal injury case in Illinois are much more expansive. A personal injury victim can receive compensation for the full amount of medical expenses that he or she incurs instead of a reduced amount like is typical in a workers’ compensation case. This includes payment for all treatments received as well as for reasonably anticipated future medical treatment. A personal injury victim can also recover for the lost wages that he or she suffered. Unlike workers’ compensation in which a worker can only receive two-thirds of this amount, a personal injury victim can recover for the full extent of his or her lost wages while recovering. If the individual cannot return to work, he or she may be able to receive compensation for the lost earning capacity he or she sustains as a result of the accident.

Personal injury victims can also recover for sustaining a disability or disfigurement and for the disruption of his or her life due to the accident and injuries. Personal injury victims can also suffer for the pain and suffering and mental anguish that they suffer as a result of the accident.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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