Employers who fail to provide workers’ compensation benefits could be charged with a crime

5541502_sEver since Illinois passed its first workers’ compensation law in 1911, employers have been required to provide financial assistance to workers who suffer an injury or illness on the job. The workers’ compensation system is still a crucially important part of the state’s economy a century later. According to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, injured workers filed more than 70,000 claims for benefits in 2011. Approximately 85 percent of these workers’ compensation claims were approved. When the IWCC decides that a workplace injury is genuine and disabling, the employer must provide benefits in a timely manner or risk criminal and civil penalties.

Who is responsible for paying workers’ compensation?

Illinois law specifies that employers are directly responsible for paying workers’ compensation in the event of an on-the-job injury or illness. Because this can lead to considerable expenses if a severe injury occurs, most employers choose to purchase workers’ compensation insurance and pay a regular premium to guarantee proper coverage. Some employers choose to self-insure and pay all claims in full using their own funds. This choice may be risky for employers and must be approved by the IWCC in each individual case. If employers are found to be lacking sufficient workers’ compensation insurance, they must pay a considerable fine (up to $25,000 per day) and may also be subject to a stop-work order until the situation is corrected.

What must employers do to comply with Illinois law regarding workers’ compensation?

To comply with Illinois law regarding workers’ compensation, employers must take all of the following steps:

  • Carry sufficient workers’ compensation insurance or receive permission from the IWCC to self-insure
  • Record all work-related injuries and report them to the IWCC if they cause more than three lost days of work
  • Cover the full cost of all workers’ compensation premiums and benefits without passing any expenses along to employees 

When employers fail to fulfill these three requirements, they may be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor or (in the case of knowing neglect) a Class 4 felony. Deliberate failure to carry proper insurance could be punishable by several years’ imprisonment.

Know your rights as an injured employee

Illinois workers’ compensation law is designed to protect employees from medical and financial hardship caused by workplace accidents. To safeguard the rights of workers, all employers must comply with state regulations and provide benefits in a timely fashion. To find out more about your rights as an injured employee, consider speaking with a workers’ compensation attorney today.

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