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When Can a Third Party Be Held Liable for Workplace Injury in Chicago?

In Illinois, injured workers are covered by no-fault workers’ comp coverage. After a workplace accident, you can file a workers’ comp claim for benefits regardless of whether or not your employer was “at fault” for your accident. You may also be entitled to additional financial compensation through a fault-based third party liability claim. Any at-fault party other than your employer—a contractor, property owner, equipment manufacturer, etc—can be sued in court. Within this article, our Chicago work injury lawyer explains the key thing to know about holding a third party liable for a workplace accident in Illinois. 

Know the Law: Workers in Illinois are Covered By No-Fault Workers’ Comp Insurance

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC) explains that businesses and organizations in our state are required “to provide workers’ compensation insurance for almost everyone who is hired.” Workers’ compensation insurance has often been referred to as a “grand bargain” between the employer and the employee. The worker has a right to pursue no-fault benefits. The only thing that they need to prove is that they were “on the job” when their accident occurred. Employer fault is not required. In turn, employees are prevented from filing a personal injury lawsuit against their employer. Workers’ comp is their sole remedy. 

A Negligent Third Party Can Be Held Liable for a Workplace Accident

Although injured workers in Illinois generally cannot sue their employer for a job-related injury, they are permitted to file a lawsuit directly against any non-employer who negligence contributed to their accident. These types of claims are called third party liability claims. They are fault-based legal cases. Defendants that may be cited in a third party liability claim in Illinois include: 

  • Contractors: If a subcontractor or independent contractor fails to adhere to safety regulations or acts carelessly, leading to an injury, they can be held liable. Contractor liability is most common in construction and industrial sites where multiple companies work. 
  • Property Owners: A negligent property owner may bear liability for your workplace accident. Property owners can be held responsible if their failure to maintain a safe environment results in an accident—such as if they fail to address a major safety hazard. 
  • Motorists: Many people have to drive as part of their job. If you are injured in a motor vehicle collision that is job-related, you can file for workers’ comp. Additionally, you can hold a third party motorist liable if their negligence contributed to your accident. 
  • Equipment Operators: In scenarios where equipment operators from another company are working alongside you and your co-workers, these operators can be held liable if their improper operation or negligence leads to an accident.
  • Manufacturers: Manufacturers of equipment/machinery can be liable if a defect in their product causes an injury. For example, if an equipment failure happened due to a defect a manufacturer may be legally responsible on the grounds of product liability. 

Proving Fault is Key to Establishing Third Party Liability (Thorough Investigation a Must)

One of the most notable differences between workers’ compensation claims and third party liability claims is fault. In a third-party claim arising from a workplace accident, establishing fault is a necessary element. It is a sharp contrast with Illinois workers’ compensation—which provides benefits regardless of fault. A third-party claim requires proof that another party’s negligence directly caused the injury. This involves demonstrating the following:  

  • The third party owed the worker a duty of care; 
  • The third party breached that duty through negligent actions or omissions; and
  • The worker suffered actual harm due to the third party’s negligence.

You File a Workers’ Comp Claim and a Third Party Liability Lawsuit

It is important to clearly emphasize that third party liability claims and workers’ comp claims are not “either/or” causes of action in Illinois. You may have the right to pursue both types of legal cases. When you file a workers’ compensation claim, you are seeking benefits like medical expenses and wage replacement through your employer’s insurance, regardless of fault. However, if your injury was caused by someone other than your employer or a coworker—such as a contractor, equipment manufacturer, or driver—you might also file a third-party liability lawsuit. 

Recovering Compensation for a Third Party Liability Claim in Illinois

Hurt on the job in Chicago? You have the right to file a workers’ comp claim and seek your workers’ comp benefits. Beyond those benefits, you can also pursue additional compensation from a negligent third party if one contributed to your accident. Through a third party liability claim, you can seek financial relief for every penny of your losses—and that can sometimes be significantly more than your workers’ comp benefits. You may be entitled to recover financial compensation for: 

  • Emergency medical care; 
  • Other medical expenses; 
  • Physical therapy costs;
  • Lost wages; 
  • Loss of earnings; 
  • Pain and suffering; 
  • Mental distress; 
  • Long-term disability; and
  • Wrongful death of a family member. 

Why Injured Workers Trust the Chicago Workplace Accident Attorneys at Kennedy Watkins

Third party liability claims are complicated. After a work-related accident, you likely have a ton of questions. It is normal to feel stressed, overwhelmed, and unsure of what comes next. At Kennedy Watkins LLC, our team of Chicago attorneys put the rights and interests of injured workers first. We take on the full range of workplace accident cases—from workers’ comp claims to workers’ comp appeals to third party liability claims. With a proven history of verdicts and settlements, we know how to get results for injured workers in Chicago. 

Contact Our Chicago, IL Workplace Accident Lawyer Today

At Kennedy Watkins LLC, our Chicago work injury attorneys have the skills and experience to take on all types of third party liability cases. If your workplace accident was caused by the negligence of a contractor, subcontractor, property development, manufacturer, or any other non-employer third party, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us today for a free case review. From our office in Chicago, we represent injured workers throughout Northern Illinois.

Attorney Watkins
Attorney Watkins Attorney Kennedy



Attorney Kennedy