Jurisdiction

The Elements of an Illinois Workers' Compensation Claim

To be eligible for Illinois workers’ compensation benefits, Illinois must have jurisdiction over the claim as set forth in the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act or Workers’ Occupational Diseases Act.

Each state has its own workers’ compensation system. The laws of each state declare the circumstances under which an injured worker is entitled to claim benefits in their state.

Contract for Hire in Illinois, Accident or Occupational Exposure in Illinois, or Employment Principally Localized in Illinois

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act sets out three circumstances where an injured worker may claim workers’ compensation benefits in the state of Illinois:

  • The employee was hired in the state of Illinois, regardless of the place of accident;
  • The employee was injured within the state of Illinois, regardless of the place of hire; or
  • The employment is “principally localized” within the state of Illinois, regardless of the place of accident or the place of hire.

820 ILCS 305/1(b)(2) Illinois General AssemblyIWCC PDF.

Similarly, the Illinois Workers’ Occupational Diseases Act provides for jurisdiction where:

  • The employee was hired in the state of Illinois, regardless of the place where the occupational disease was contracted;
  • The employee contracted the occupational disease within the state of Illinois, regardless of the place of hire; or
  • The employment is “principally localized” within the state of Illinois, regardless of the place where the occupational disease was contracted or the place of hire.

820 ILCS 310/1(b)(2) Illinois General Assembly.

Jurisdiction Cannot Be Bargained Away

Employers are not allowed to deny Illinois workers’ compensation benefits to injured workers even if they have signed a contract agreeing to bound to the workers’ compensation laws of another state. P.I. & I. Motor Express, Inc./For U, LLC v. Industrial Commission, 368 Ill. App. 3d 230 (2006) Google Scholar | Illinois Courts PDF.

This is because the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act provides that:

No employee, personal representative, or beneficiary shall have power to waive any of the provisions of this Act in regard to the amount of compensation which may be payable to such employee, personal representative or beneficiary hereunder except after approval by the Commission . . .

820 ILCS 305/23 Illinois General AssemblyIWCC PDF.

Election of Remedies

It is also possible that an injured worker could be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits in multiple states. Even if a claim has already been filed or benefits have been received in another state, it might not be too late to seek benefits in Illinois.

Generally, receipt of workers’ compensation benefits in one state does not bar a subsequent award in a second state with concurrent jurisdiction. However, a claimant will be deemed to have elected his remedy in a particular jurisdiction where: (1) double compensation is threatened; (2) the employer has been misled by the claimant’s conduct; or (3) res judicata applies.

P.I. & I. Motor Express, Inc./For U, LLC v. Industrial Commission, 368 Ill. App. 3d 230 (2006) Google Scholar | Illinois Courts PDF.

In such cases, you would likely want to claim benefits in the state that provides the greatest benefits (and Illinois is one of the more generous states). If you have already received benefits in another state, your employer will likely receive a credit for the amount paid.

Further reading:

Mahoney v. Industrial Commission, 218 Ill. 2d 358 (2006) (“The plain, unambiguous language of section 1(b)(2), as consistently interpreted by this court in an unbroken line of cases dating to 1930, confers jurisdiction to the Commission over injuries occurring outside Illinois when the contract of hire is made within Illinois. As long as the initial contract remains in force, the Commission retains jurisdiction. The section does not speak to lapse of time, failure to maintain significant contacts, or voluntariness of transfers, and imposes no requirement other than the existence of an employment contract in this state.”) Google ScholarIllinois Courts.

Cowger v. Industrial Commission, 313 Ill. App. 3d 364 (2000) (“A contract for hire is made where the last act necessary for the formation of the contract occurred.”) Google Scholar | Illinois Courts.

Montgomery Tank Lines v. Industrial Commission, 263 Ill. App. 3d 218 (1994) (“[a] person’s employment is principally localized in this or another State when (1) his employer has a place of business in this or such other State and he regularly works at or from such place of business, or (2) if clause (1) foregoing is not applicable, he is domiciled and spends a substantial part of his working time in the service of his employer in this or such other State.”) Google Scholar.

This article does not provide legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney directly.