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Overview of workers' compensation

An on-the-job accident at a construction site can cause serious injuries to anyone involved. Several parties could be held liable for such an accident, including the employer, contractors, product manufacturers and property owners. Workers' compensation is separate from any liability that those parties may face. The state of Illinois put the workers' compensation system into place to protect employees throughout the state who suffer injuries when they are working.

Following a construction worker's accident, the employee can seek benefits through the workers' compensation system. This is not a legal claim against the employer. The worker should be entitled to reasonable medical care, which can include health care center visits, travel expenses and medications. Other benefits that may be available are temporary disability, permanent disability and vocational rehabilitation.

The worker may need to follow several steps in order to ensure that the workers' compensation claim will be honored. The claims process begins with reporting the injury to their employer; professionals advise to do this in writing and keep a copy of the reporting. The employer will then provide a claim form that the worker will need to submit as soon as possible after the injury. It should be completely filled out, and the employer must then notify its workers' compensation insurance provider of the claim.

By filing a workers' compensation claim, an injured worker gives up the right to file a lawsuit against the employer. The rare exception to this rule is if the employer was criminally negligent in causing the injury. However, if a third party caused the injury, such as a truck driver from a different company crashing into the work site, that party may still be held liable in a personal injury lawsuit. Both personal injury and workers' compensation claims can be complicated and may be best approached with professional legal assistance.

Source: Findlaw, "Construction Accidents and Workers' Compensation", August 14, 2014

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