In Illinois, injured workers are generally entitled to workers’ compensation benefits when they suffer a work-related accident or are harmed by a hazard while performing the duties of their job or acting on behalf of their employer. To file a workers’ compensation claim, however, a worker must first determine if he or she is covered under the workers’ compensation laws of the state. When workers are not classified as common employees, their eligibility may be difficult to determine. A knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney can help injured workers sort through the red tape.
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Do Contract Workers Qualify for Workers’ Comp Claims?
Non-employees working on a company site are usually covered for workplace accident claims. In Illinois, the growing ranks of consultants, freelancers and day laborers have one important employee protection in place. That is workers compensation insurance for contract workers, which provides for costs relating to injuries sustained while working.
Because of past incidents of fraud, however, the system creates hurdles for victims to file a claim successfully. Therefore the assistance of a workers comp attorney in Illinois is very often necessary. Essentially, contract workers are covered in one of two ways:
- Contractor does not have own policy – Illinois treats vendors as employees of the firm they are contracting with if those vendors do not have their own insurance policy.
- Contractor has own policy – Some outside vendors who work on site might have workers compensation insurance of their own (in fact, it might be a requirement for getting the contract in the first place). This would tend to happen in larger companies with several individuals employed on a work site.
An injury can happen almost anywhere – Illinois defines (in the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act) what a hazardous environment might be, which includes offices with sharp cutting tools such as scissors – therefore the need for near-universal insurance is a given. Injuries can range from a debilitating construction site accident to injuries or illnesses sustained in healthcare provider environments, warehouses, manufacturing facilities, repetitive trauma such as carpal tunnel syndrome, and work on both the ground and in the air in airline-related jobs.
It’s important, however, to seek medical care from the employer’s provider. Regardless of whether the injured is a regular employee or a contract worker, he or she should seek immediate medical attention as soon as an injury is evident. Acute, emergency care can be obtained anywhere it is available as needed. Non-emergency care must be sought through the employer’s preferred provider program or another healthcare provider as referred to by the employer. To seek ongoing medical and therapeutic care outside these confines risks losing benefits under the workers’ comp program.
What Temp Workers Should Know about Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Injured temp workers are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for any work-related injuries or illnesses. In Illinois, workers’ compensation benefits for temporary workers are provided by the staffing agency. Under the Day and Temporary Labor Services Act, Illinois temp agencies are required to provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage for all employees and can be fined for the failure to secure workers’ compensation insurance.
Temporary jobs are often associated with higher injury risks. There are many complex reasons behind this correlation, but some of the most common causes include:
- High rates of turnover on the job
- Insufficient or absent training
- Reluctance to report unsafe job conditions due to fear of losing work
- Unsafe working conditions
- Less comprehensive access to safety equipment
A large number of temporary employees are hurt or even permanently disabled on the job because of insufficient safety provisions.
How Workers’ Compensation Law Applies to Unpaid Interns and Volunteers
Workers’ compensation insurance is designed to help cover the costs associated with work-related injuries and replace a portion of a worker’s wages while he or she is unable to perform the duties of the job. Since unpaid interns and volunteers do not receive paid wages and they are not regular employees, benefits for work injuries can be difficult to assess.
Workers’ compensation laws apply a broad definition of the word “employee” and may cover interns regardless of whether they are paid or not. Accordingly, interns – whether paid or unpaid – are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits in most cases. Since a portion of workers’ compensation benefits is calculated according to wages, unpaid workers are only eligible for medical expenses, however.
Unpaid workers who are injured on the job may also have a claim against any negligent third party. Possible legal remedies include premises liability lawsuits, claims against manufacturers or distributors, and lawsuits against negligent workers or contract companies. A successful third-party personal injury claim may allow victims to recover compensation for a number of expenses and damages.
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Lost income
- Future medical bills and care
- Loss of consortium
A skilled workers’ compensation attorney can help people who are injured on the job determine whether or not they may be entitled to financial compensation through a workers’ comp claim or another type of injury lawsuit.