If you’re involved in a truck accident in Illinois, you can either file a workers’ comp claim or pursue a personal injury lawsuit. It just depends on whether you were driving during working hours, or if you were involved in a truck accident at work with an outside contractor or vendor. A Chicago work injury attorney can advise on your best options.
As a truck driver injured in an accident in Illinois, you typically have two options for compensation: workers’ comp or a personal injury claim. Workers’ comp provides limited benefits, while a personal injury lawsuit aims to recover full damages.
Under workers’ comp, your medical bills and lost wages are covered by your employer’s insurance. It’s a no-fault system, meaning neither party is found liable. The benefits, however, have limits.
In contrast, filing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party allows you to recover full compensation for your injuries and losses. This includes:
While the process is often lengthy, the potential payout is far greater. The choice comes down to your needs and priorities. Workers’ comp provides swift but limited benefits, while a personal injury claim aims for full compensation at the risk of a lengthy legal fight.
If you’re injured while driving or handling freight as part of your job, you’re typically eligible for workers’ comp. This includes injuries from vehicle crashes, lifting heavy cargo, falls getting in and out of the truck, etc. The injury must arise out of and occur within the course of your employment.
Workers’ comp also covers occupational diseases from long-term exposure, like back strains from years of loading freight or the emergence of hearing loss from constant loud noises. The disease must be characteristic of and unique to the trucking field to qualify.
However, if your injury was caused by serious and willful misconduct, intoxication, or self-inflicted, you may be denied workers’ comp benefits. The same is true if you were not following proper safety procedures. Your employer must prove your actions rose to the level of willful misconduct for a claim denial.
The workers’ comp process may be complicated, so consider consulting with an attorney who handles trucking accidents and workers’ compensation cases regularly. They can help you understand your legal rights, file the necessary paperwork, and fight for the maximum benefits if your claim is denied.
While workers’ compensation covers employees injured on the job, a personal injury claim allows truck drivers to pursue compensation for injuries from a truck accident caused by another party’s negligence, such as an outside vendor or contractor. As a trucker, it’s important to understand how these two options differ if you’re injured in a crash.
A worker’s compensation claim is made through your employer and provides coverage for medical bills and lost wages. However, as noted, it will not compensate you for pain and suffering or other damages such as the loss of consortium or the loss of quality of life.
Your employer pays into a state worker’s comp fund. As a result, you forfeit the right to sue them for injuries sustained on the job.
On the other hand, a personal injury claim allows you to file a lawsuit against a negligent party – outside of your company – who is responsible for an on-the-job accident. This might include the driver of another vehicle or a contract laborer operating heavy machinery. If successful, you may be able to recover full compensation for:
To pursue a personal injury claim, you’ll need to prove the other driver’s negligence and liability for the crash. An experienced truck accident lawyer can investigate the accident, determine who’s at fault, and fight to get you the maximum compensation possible. They can also handle negotiations with insurance companies on your behalf.
While filing a workers’ comp claim and personal injury claim may seem similar, there are some key differences to understand.
Workers’ comp will cover any medical care related to your work injury, including hospital stays, physical therapy, medications, etc. A personal injury claim will include compensation for medical bills as well as damages for pain and suffering.
If you miss work due to a work-related injury, workers’ comp will pay a portion of your lost wages. A personal injury claim may provide full compensation for all lost earnings as well as the future loss of earning capacity. This can be especially helpful if your injuries prevent you from returning to work.
Workers’ comp provides limited benefits for permanent disabilities based on a fixed schedule. A personal injury lawsuit offers the potential for significantly higher compensation, especially if your injuries seriously impact your quality of life or career.
Punitive damages are not available in a workers’ comp claim. However, if the other party’s negligence was particularly egregious, a personal injury lawsuit could result in punitive damages – damages designed to punish the at-fault party.
While workers’ comp claims typically provide limited benefits, they also have a lower burden of proof, and the claims process moves much faster. You must notify your employer of a job injury within 45 days of the accident, either verbally or in writing.
Make sure to include all your contact info, your social security number, and a brief description of the injury to prevent delays.
On the other hand, personal injury lawsuits are more complex but often result in higher settlements, especially for severe or permanent injuries. It just takes longer to wait for your money.
The best approach depends on the specifics of your accident and injuries. Speaking with an experienced Illinois truck accident lawyer is the best way to understand your options fully and determine the best path to take.
If you have questions about personal injury law or workers’ comp claims, contact a legal specialist immediately. In Illinois, your go-to law firm is Malman Law. Schedule a no-obligation consultation today.
Malman Law’s founder Attorney Steven Malman has over 30 years of experience handling personal injury, nursing home, medical malpractice, truck accidents, car accidents, premises liability, construction, and workers’ compensation cases in Chicago, IL.
Years of experience: +30 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active and authorized to practice law—Last Registered Year: 2023