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Farm Owners Have Different Rules for Workers' CompensationAgricultural work has the potential to cause serious or fatal injuries, but workers compensation benefits may not be available in some cases. Illinois’ Workers’ Compensation Act states that it does not apply to owners of agricultural enterprises unless they have employees who work a combined 400 working days per fiscal quarter. Immediate family members of the owner do not count as employees if they live with the owner. Thus, the owner of a small farm is not required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance if he or she employs only a few helpers who do not work the required number of hours. This does not change the inherent dangers that come with agricultural work, including:

  1. Operating Hazardous Equipment: Farmers regularly use sharp tools that can cause serious cuts or lost appendages. They have power tools and heavy machinery that are dangerous if they malfunction or are not used properly. Large vehicles such as tractors are a threat to roll over when being driven or overturn when idle.
  2. Slips and Falls: Farmers may need to climb up ladders when working, which has the potential for fall-related injuries. The working area has many obstacles that can trip a worker and substances that may make the floor slippery. A worker may suffer further injury if he or she falls onto a piece of equipment.
  3. Grain Silos: Suffocation is a serious threat when working in a grain storage bin. Shifts in a pile of grain may cause it to collapse on a worker. Grain can behave like quicksand, making it difficult to escape from. An accumulation of grain dust can cause an explosion if it comes in contact with a heat source.
  4. Contaminants: Farmers may work with chemicals such as pesticides, which can be hazardous to humans. Working with animals may expose a farmer to diseases and infections. Long-term exposure to dust and chemicals in the air may cause chronic respiratory problems.

Contact a Crystal Lake Workers’ Compensation Attorney

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act’s exception for farm owners may not apply if your duties on a farm include more than agricultural work. Being hired to do construction or equipment maintenance may fall outside the legal definition of agricultural work.

Farm owners can still carry workers’ compensation insurance or farm liability coverage even if they are not required to. A McHenry County workers’ compensation attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can help you receive compensation for your farm-related injury. To schedule a free consultation, call 815-338-3838. 

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Workers' Compensation Continues, Even If Your Employer Does NotWhat will happen to your workers’ compensation claim if your employer goes out of business? This scenario does happen and leaves claimants worried about whether they will receive the benefits they need while they recover and look for a new job. Fortunately, the status of your employer will not affect your workers’ compensation claim in most cases. The process could take a little longer, but the end result should still cover your medical expenses and lost income.

Insurance Coverage

Most employers provide workers’ compensation insurance through a third-party insurance company, who is responsible for paying your benefits. Your employer going out of business does not change the insurer’s ability to cover you in the event of a successful workers’ compensation claim. However, the process can be slower if your employer is unable to help its insurer with the case. There may be no one left in your employer’s human resources department to:

  • Assist the insurer with investigating your injury; or
  • Give the insurer your wage records.

You can provide paycheck stubs or other pay records to help move the process along. In some situations, your employer being closed can help with your workers’ compensation claim. The insurer likely wants to close your case quickly because your employer is no longer a paying client. A prolonged court battle may not be worth the cost to them.

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Workers' Compensation Coverage Limits Number of Medical OpinionsAfter suffering a debilitating injury, patients often seek opinions from more than one physician. A different doctor may diagnose other problems that the patient is having or offer a more effective treatment. For people who were injured at work, Illinois’ workers’ compensation law allows them to seek an opinion from a second doctor, with the employer still covering the cost of the visit. However, getting an opinion from a third doctor may not be covered, which would leave the injured employee liable for the cost.

Example

In the case of L&M Supervac v. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, an employee injured his shoulder while performing his work duty of lifting heavy trash cans. The employee went to an emergency room to see a doctor, which the employer agreed to pay for out of pocket to avoid an increase in its insurance premiums. After appointments with the doctor and an independent medical examiner representing the employer, the employee twice underwent surgery to relieve the pain in his shoulder. With the pain persisting, he sought the opinion of another doctor, who identified other damage in the shoulder area. However, the man, who no longer worked for the employer, had not received permission for any further doctor visits. The former employer disputed that the man’s injury originated from work and claimed that he exceeded the number of physicians he was allowed to consult. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission and subsequent courts found that the evidence soundly pointed to the injury coming from his work. However, they ruled that the man used three choices of doctors and must pay for the visits with the third doctor. The reasoning was:

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