Under Illinois law, employers have a duty to provide workers’ compensation coverage to their employees. This means that one way or another, they are responsible for the costs of injuries sustained on the job among their employees. In most cases, this takes the form of workers’ compensation insurance.
In some scenarios, employers may also self-insure, but only if they meet certain requirements. In this case, they pay the costs of workplace injuries directly.
In either case, the onus of paying for workers’ compensation should never fall upon the employee. Workers are not to pay for their workplace injuries, nor should they be held responsible in any way for any portion of the cost.
Workers’ Compensation Insurance
In the vast majority of cases, your employer is required under the IWCC (Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission) to carry workers’ compensation insurance. No matter how many people they employ, they must maintain coverage for each of their employees with very few exceptions.
These exceptions include corporate officers, sole proprietors, business partners, members of LLCs, and certain farming enterprises. For instance, a family farm that employs a few farmhands during the year won’t likely be required to maintain workers’ compensation coverage. Likewise, partners in a limited partnership wouldn’t need to be insured, even though their employees would.
Barring these exceptions, your employer will typically pay for your injury in the form of regular insurance premiums. They pay their insurance company based on the level of liability they can expect to face, and the insurance company pays out benefits whenever someone suffers a workplace injury.
If your employer is a particularly large or profitable company, they may be able to self-insure rather than pay regular premiums to an outside insurer. In order to do this, they must apply to the IWCC and fulfill the following requirements:
- They are a private employer (as opposed to government employers)
- They have sufficient assets to cover their expected workplace injury liability
- They have sufficient security as a company
In order to maintain their ability to self-insure, your employer must also file an application annually to the IWCC and provide workers’ compensation benefits promptly whenever they are required. If they are no longer able to meet these requirements, then they no longer qualify for self-insurance and will need to obtain outside coverage.
Implications for Employees
Since the law requires your employer to cover the costs of workplace injuries, you should not have to pay for the medical costs, disabilities, or lost work hours resultant from your injuries. Your employer cannot require you to pay for any part of your insurance coverage, nor can they put any obligation for the costs upon you. Regardless of your own role in your injury, they are responsible for the cost.
However, your employer’s insurance provider may try to diminish the amounts you are owed. Since they cannot flat out refuse to cover legitimate workplace injuries, they may attempt to downplay how much medical treatment was necessary or claim it wasn’t suffered in the course of fulfilling your employment duties. If this happens, it’s best to obtain legal assistance. Hart David Carson LLP can help you negotiate with the insurance company to secure the benefits you are owed.