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Good News for Illinois Employers: Some Safety Experts Lose Immunity Against Lawsuits for Workplace Injuries

September 2014

By: Anthony J. Caruso, Esq.

On June 5, 2014, Governor Quinn signed into law a subtle change to Section 5 of the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act. Section 5 of the Act is the exclusive remedy provision which prevents injured employees from seeking additional compensation/damages in the courts against their employers beyond worker's compensation benefits.

Prior to June 5, 2014, Section 5 of the Act stated that the following individuals providing safety service, advice or recommendations for the employer or the agents or the employees of any of them were immune from lawsuits for workplace injuries:

  • Employer;
  • Insurer;
  • Broker;
  • Or, any service organization retained by the employer, insurer or broker.

Effective June 5, 2014: the service organization must be wholly owned (not just "retained") by the employer, insurer, or broker to have immunity under the exclusive remedy doctrine.

What does this mean for the Illinois Employer? If the employer retains/hires a safety expert to provide safety training and the training is done negligently which causes an employee's work related injuries, the employer and its insurer can now recover costs of the workers' compensation claim against the safety expert in a personal injury claim.

Tip for Illinois Employers: If you retain/hire a safety expert, your company should verify the expert has liability insurance should the expert's negligence cause an employee's injury.

If you have any questions or concerns about this topic or any other questions related to employment, please call attorney Anthony J. Caruso of Wessels Sherman's St. Charles Illinois office at (630) 377-1554 or e-mail ancaruso@wesselssherman.com.