Are workers compensation cases public record?

The average person changes jobs anywhere from 5 to 7 times during their working lifetime. This is a move that could present some challenges if you are switching jobs after having workers’ compensation issues with a previous employer. Even if your employer was found to be responsible for the incident, you may have concerns about a new employer or other prying eyes checking out details about your workers’ comp case. But are workers’ compensation cases public record? That’s the topic we’re going to explore today.

Are workers compensation cases public record?

It Depends On Where You Live (the Answer is ‘Yes’ In Illinois)

Some states, like California, do keep workers’ comp details private. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case in Illinois. Workers’ compensation settlements are a matter of public record in Illinois. Technically, this means someone – such as a potential employer, a curious co-worker, or even a family member or friend – could look up case-related info you would rather keep private.

This being said, someone searching for your workers’ compensation case info would have to know what specific claim to look for. In other words, it takes a lot of time and effort along with knowledge of the fact you actually filed a previous claim for someone to dig and find the desired info. Typically, settlement details are viewed by an existing employer or possibly the insurance company that made the payout if there is a need to view claim-related information for reference or bookkeeping purposes. A new employer may take similar steps if you voluntarily disclosed that you previously filed a claim.

Other Aspects of Your Case May Become Public Record as Well

A claim that’s denied on appeal by the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board also becomes public record. Additionally, results from your trial will be publicly accessible. This is especially likely to be the case if your situation was fairly contentious, or if a large sum was involved with the settlement.

You Might Be Required to Sign a Confidentiality Agreement

In some cases, an employer or their insurance company’s legal team may ask you to sign a confidentially agreement. This doesn’t affect access to your case records or prevent someone who knows about your case from seeking publicly accessible records. What it does do is prevent you from actively discussing the specifics of your case, such as the fact you reached a settlement, the specifics of the work-related incident that resulted in your injuries, and how much your settlement was for.

What Can a Workers’ Comp Lawyer Do for You?

Even if you don’t say a word about your case or settlement, an employer or their insurance company may still pursue a breach of contract case against you if details of your claim and related actions are exposed via a public records search. Should this happen, it can be beneficial to have an experienced workers’ comp attorney on your side. If you really want absolute privacy, you could opt not to file a claim, or you may forfeit all compensation. However, it’s often better to contact a trusted lawyer to get the assistance you need to file a claim correctly, especially if you’ll need help covering your injury-related expenses and making up for lost income from work.