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Workers’ Compensation Limited in the Gig EconomyAdvances in digital technologies have caused a growth in the gig economy – a job market based on freelance work and short-term contracts. Uber, Airbnb, and Postmates are three examples of gig economy employers who are driven by apps and digital platforms. Employees like the gig economy because it gives them flexibility in when and where they work. Employers benefit from decreased personnel costs because most of their employees are independent contractors. One of the disadvantages of being an independent contractor is that you lack employee benefits, such as workers’ compensation insurance. If the gig economy becomes a larger portion of the workforce, states such as Illinois may consider adjusting their employment laws.

Independent Contractor Rights

Illinois requires employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance in case one of their employees is injured at work. Independent contractors do not qualify for workers’ compensation benefits under Illinois law. However, the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission has awarded benefits to independent contractors when it determined the employer treated the contractor as an employee. Examples of evidence include:

  • The contractor works fulltime and exclusively for the employer;
  • The employer determines the contractor’s schedule and work assignments;
  • The employer owns the equipment that the contractor uses;
  • The employer pays for expenses related to the work; or
  • The contractor must pass a drug test before they can start working.

Solutions

The lack of workers’ compensation benefits for independent contractors will become a larger problem if more workers rely on jobs from the gig economy as their sole income. Even for those who use the gig economy to supplement their main income, there is a concern that they will not receive benefits if injured while doing their independent contract work. State legislative action may be the only way to provide workers’ compensation benefits to gig economy employees. For instance, California recently passed a law that will classify independent contractors for gig economy companies as employees. The law states that a worker is an employee if:

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How an Uninsured Motorist Affects Your Personal Injury CaseA personal injury case involving a vehicle accident will start with filing an insurance claim before you decide whether to pursue a personal injury lawsuit. While you have two years in Illinois to file a personal injury lawsuit, the insurance claim process will start almost immediately. If the other driver was at fault for your injuries, their insurance will likely be responsible for compensating you. However, what happens if the driver at fault does not have auto insurance? In Illinois, your uninsured motorist coverage will pay you instead.

How Does It Work?

Illinois requires auto insurance providers to include uninsured motorist coverage in all insurance plans, whereas other states may only require that insurers offer it. Your insurance will compensate you if you are injured in an accident with an uninsured driver, including if:

  • You were driving another vehicle;
  • You were a passenger in the uninsured driver’s vehicle; or
  • You were a cyclist or pedestrian.

Your insurance policy will also compensate you if the liable driver is underinsured. In that instance, your insurer would pay the difference between what the other insurance company pays you and your medical expenses, up to the limit of your policy. However, your insurance might not cover property damage caused by an uninsured party, depending on the type of policy you have.

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Teen Suicide Prompts Illinois to Change Procedure for Juvenile InterrogationsMost teenagers cannot help but feel intimidated when a police officer questions them. They may not understand that being detained and interrogated is different from being arrested and charged with a crime. On the other side of the interrogation, a police officer may not appreciate the trauma that a teenager may experience after being questioned about a serious crime. In 2017, a 16-year-old high school student in Naperville, Illinois, committed suicide after a school resource officer had detained him for questioning at the school over an alleged recording of a sexual encounter. The teen’s parents were not aware of the allegations or the police questioning until after the teen took his own life. In response to this incident, Illinois recently enacted a new law that changes the procedure for police questioning a student on school grounds.

Parental Notification

A law enforcement officer who suspects a student younger than 18 of committing a crime must comply with the following steps if they intend to detain and question them on school grounds:

  • They must notify or attempt to notify the student’s parents or guardian;
  • They must try to allow a parent or guardian to attend the questioning;
  • If a parent or guardian is unavailable, they must allow a mental health professional to attend, such as a school psychologist or social worker; and
  • If reasonable, they must try to include a law enforcement officer who is trained in communicating with youth.

The law states that its rules apply when a student is on school property during regular school hours and when students are present.

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The Benefits and Risks of Using Witnesses During a Divorce CaseIt is rare that you will need to call on a witness to testify in your divorce case. You and your spouse can settle most divorce issues without involving someone else in the process. Divorce attorneys commonly gather third-party information when preparing for your divorce. They can use a court order to compel a noncompliant party to provide information without needing them to testify in court. You are more likely to need a witness when you are fighting over parental responsibility for your children or accusing your spouse of misconduct.

Using Witnesses

There are two types of witnesses that can be useful in a divorce case:

  • A character witness who can speak personally about you or your spouse; and
  • An expert witness on a topic that is relevant to your divorce.

Character witnesses are people who have observed or interacted with you, your spouse or your children. Family members are not convincing character witnesses because they often have a bias towards one of the parties. Close friends, neighbors, work colleagues, and childcare givers are common character witnesses who can speak to your good character or your spouse’s poor character.

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Will a Positive Drug Test Sink Your Workers’ Compensation Claim?A workers’ compensation insurance company will search for reasons that they can deny your claim, including blaming your conduct for your injury. That is why some employers will ask you to submit to a drug test after an injury. According to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, an employee is ineligible for workers’ compensation benefits if their intoxication was the proximate cause of their injury. You can still qualify for workers’ compensation benefits if you failed a drug test, but you will have to prove that your injury was unrelated to the intoxicating substance in your body.

Drug Testing

In September 2011, Illinois changed its burden of proof for intoxication claims in workers’ compensation cases. Previously, employers had to prove that an employee was intoxicated and that the intoxication caused the injury. Now, employees who test positive for drugs bear the burden of proving that they were not intoxicated or that whatever effect the drug had on them did not cause their injury. According to state law, employers can use results from a blood, urine, or breath test as evidence of the presence of:

  • Alcohol;
  • Cannabis;
  • Controlled substances; and
  • Intoxicating compounds.

Intoxicating compounds are otherwise legal substances that can cause intoxicating effects, such as huffing chemicals. The law presumes that you were intoxicated if you refuse a drug test after your injury.

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