What if workers’ compensation does not cover all of your expenses?

If you sustained an injury while on the job, you may feel very fortunate to have access to workers’ compensation coverage to help cover the bills while you heal. That is, until you come to realize that workers’ compensation is not always enough to cover the full cost of a debilitating workplace injury.

As workers’ compensation attorneys, we regularly discuss this scenario with our clients and are here to help if you have questions about the best course of action to follow after severe injury—so call us today at 815-923-2107.

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What does workers’ compensation cover?

Workers’ compensation will cover all of your medical bills and a portion of your lost wages. The amount you will receive and how long you will receive it under your employer’s workers’ compensation policy depends on the severity of your injury.

In Illinois, there are generally five types of recovery under workers’ compensation:

  1. Temporary total disability payments (TT)
  2. Temporary partial (TP)
  3. Permanent total (PT)
  4. Permanent partial disability benefits (PP)
  5. Vocational rehabilitation/maintenance benefits

How much compensation your employer’s insurer will award you depends on your recovery classification and the severity of the injury you sustained.

For example, PP benefits are those which compensate the worker for the actual physical loss caused by the injury. In most cases, the worker can expect to receive 60–66.6 percent of his weekly average wage for a set number of weeks depending upon the type of injury, assuming the worker has experienced a “loss of use.” For example:

  • Loss of a thumb: 76 weeks
  • Loss of a hand: 205 weeks
  • Loss of hearing: 54 weeks
  • Loss of an eye: 162 weeks

If an injury leaves a worker totally disabled and unable to return to work, he may be eligible to receive 66.6 percent of his average weekly wage for life.

This may seem like a lot of money, but consider this: The median worker in Illinois made $36,000 in 2014, according to the Illinois Economic Policy Institute. Even if you receive 66.6 percent of your weekly wage for the rest of your life, you miss out on over $900 a month.

That’s a lot of lost income you aren’t recovering. Depending on the circumstances of your accident and injury, you may have grounds to recover further compensation.

My post-injury expenses are extremely high, and workers’ compensation is not enough. Can I pursue a lawsuit?

In Illinois, workers generally cannot sue their employer. The only times an employee may be able to sue his employer is if he is not receiving workers’ compensation benefits (e.g., he does not qualify as an employee or the employer does not have insurance). The employee may also be able to sue if the employer intentionally injured the employee.

Because these cases are not common, injured workers may have another option for paying for astronomical post-accident expenses, such as permanent disability care and lost wages. Workers may be eligible to file a suit against a third party that contributed to the accident and injury. For example, if a construction worker sustains injury because of the actions of a sub-contractor from another company, he will be able to file a suit against that sub-contractor.

You may also be able to file a third-party lawsuit against a manufacturer if a defective product caused your injury. For example, if a forklift malfunctioned, leading to the loss of your leg, you could sue the forklift manufacturer for damages.

Recoverable damages in third-party lawsuits can include:

  • Lost wages
  • Medical bills
  • Permanent disability care
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Future lost wages
  • Lost business opportunities
  • Housekeeping duties (i.e., if you had to hire someone to accomplish household tasks that you were able to complete before the accident)

A workers’ compensation attorney at Franks Gerkin McKenna can help you determine damages for which you may be eligible.

Contact Franks Gerkin McKenna for Help Today

If you sustained injuries while on the job and need to discuss your options under Illinois laws, please do not hesitate to contact Franks Gerkin McKenna today at 815-923-2107. FGM Law serves Boone County and McHenry County, Illinois.