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What happens when companies don't pay workers' compensation?

Workers' compensation benefits can be a valuable tool for any employee. While nobody wants to be the victim of a work accident, work accidents and injuries do happen, and Illinois law requires that workers receive benefits to pay for their medical bills and any time of work that they may have as a result.

While workers' compensation insurance can help employers provide their employees these benefits, the sad fact is that many employers -- in a misguided attempt to improve their bottom line -- do not pay for this insurance. As a result, thousands of injured workers and their families are left reeling from the financial impact that their injuries might give them.

There are many reasons why some employers do not buy workers' compensation insurance for their employees. Sometimes companies that are struggling in this economy can't afford the insurance premiums. Other times, they forget to file for the premiums after the premium expires. However, unfortunately one of the most common reasons why there is a lack of insurance is because companies want to lower their overhead in order to be more competitive, so they end up putting their employees at risk.

This gamble can have perilous consequences. In one of the most dangerous fields of work, construction, often companies will risk not carrying workers' compensation insurance. In this industry, accidents can be altogether too common and many times injured workers and their families are unsure of their next steps when there is no financial benefit available to them.

By law, Illinois employers are required to pay workers' compensation costs when circumstances warrant payment, regardless of whether they have an insurance policy. Though many companies choose not to grant the payments, they risk the possibility of criminal penalties or paying heavy fines, in addition to the compensation owed to injured workers. For this reason, it is recommended that all employers make sure that they make a sincere effort to take care of their employees. In doing so, they might help an injured worker and their family, while avoiding serious penalties for breaking the law.

Source: Springfield News-Sun, "Firms face charges for skipping workers' comp payments," Cornelius Frolik, May 13, 2012

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ITLA WCLA Illinois State Bar Association
Super Lawyers ABA- American Bar Association The Chicago Bar Association Founded 1874
 Workers' Compensation Lawyers Association Lake County Bar Association Recommended By Peers For Leading Lawyers Network