Chicago is an international hub of industry, home to numerous factories, warehouses and industrial parks that employ hundreds of thousands of workers. Shipping and trucking work injuries are an unfortunate byproduct of the industrial sector, and thus it is important for those whose livelihoods depend on the business of shipping and road transportation to become familiar about their rights and responsibilities with regard to safety in the workplace and workers’ compensation.
The Right to Safety
Workers in Chicago and across Illinois have the right to work in a place where employers are mindful of all hazards related to the specific economic activity they are involved in. There are several occupational safety and health standards promulgated by the federal government and the Illinois Compiled Statutes.
One of the federal agencies that addresses the issue of workplace safety is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Shipping and transportation workers may be familiar with this agency and their posters that inform employees of their rights to work in a place that is safe and healthful, as well as their right to contact OSHA inspectors and file complaints without fear of reprisal.
Another poster or employment document that industrial workers may be familiar with deals with workers’ compensation. Even with all industrial safety precautions in effect, shipping and trucking work injuries can still arise due to accidents. The same can be said of work-related injuries that suddenly occur or that develop over time. Workers’ compensation consists of benefits paid to employees who are injured on the job or who suffer an illness as a result of performing their work duties.
Under the laws and regulations governing the workers’ compensation system in Illinois, workers can report shipping and trucking work injuries to their employers within 45 days, but employers must report accidents that result in the loss of three working days at once. Reports are made to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, and claims for benefits can be filed within three years.
The Right to Seek Legal Counsel
Workers’ compensation is one of the most complex fields of legal practice. There is a general misconception among Chicago workers about losing the right to file lawsuits against their employers if they receive workers’ compensation benefits. If circumstances of the accident or injury resulted from recklessness or disregard of safety by the employers, workers can seek legal remedies in court that could result in settlements or awards for damages, medical expenses, lost wages, and more.
In some cases, a lawsuit against an employer may result in a waiver of workers’ compensation benefits, but experienced attorneys can examine the facts surrounding the case to come to that conclusion.