Illinois residents who suffer an injury at work often think of workers’ compensation as their only recourse. However, in some situations, you also may be able to pursue a standard personal injury lawsuit, which can help you recover a wider range of damages.

Generally, you may have the option of filing a lawsuit if a third party, who is not your employer, bears the fault for your injury. Figuring out whether this is the case may involve a detailed investigation into the sources of the injury. Depending on the specific situation, you may face some fairly tight filing deadlines, making it is important to set the process in motion promptly.

Situations that may allow for a lawsuit

Third-party liability cases can stem from various types of negligence. Some common examples include sustaining injury due to a car accident, defective equipment or the negligent behavior of an outside contractor working near you. Some industries, in particular, tend to bring in a large number of contractors. For instance, if you work in construction, there is a high chance that many of those present on the site work for a contractor rather than your particular employer. Thus, investigating the case means not just finding out exactly how your injury occurred, but also the employment relationship of relevant individuals. 

Basics of a personal injury suit

Prevailing in a third-party lawsuit requires proving the ordinary elements of a typical personal injury case: that the defendant acted negligently, thereby causing your injury and resulting damages. Potential damages usually include economic compensation to cover financial loss, as well as damages for pain and suffering. A plaintiff may be able to recover punitive damages if the defendant’s conduct went beyond negligence and qualified as extremely reckless or malicious.

You do not have to choose between a lawsuit and workers’ compensation. Filing for workers’ comp can give you some basic benefits to help with medical bills and lost earnings while you pursue the lawsuit.