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Can You Get Compensation in Your Workers’ Comp Claim for Your Pain & Suffering?

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act governs how the state handles workers’ compensation requirements and claims. Under this act, workers’ compensation is described as a method of providing employees with financial benefits to pay for necessary medical bills and sometimes provide a portion of their normal wages in case they get hurt while on-the-job. Unfortunately, this legal description does not take pain and suffering and other noneconomic damages into account, so workers’ compensation claims do not provide payments for such damages in most cases.

What is Noneconomic Damage?

When describing the harm or hardship someone experiences due to an accident or injury, everything can be sorted into one of two categories: economic and noneconomic. Economic damages are costs incurred that can be traced with a bill, receipt, or price tag. In some contexts, economic damages may be called “real damages” because they are tangible in this way.

For example, the medical bills generated by your treatment after an on-the-job accident will have a definitive total cost printed on them, making them part of the economic damage category.

On the other hand, any harm or hardship that is more intangible and cannot be traced definitively on a spreadsheet is a noneconomic damage. “Pain” and “suffering” are perhaps the two most commonly listed noneconomic damages in a personal injury claim. Essentially, the claimant demands monetary compensation to account for all the emotional and mental trauma they have had to endure due to their accident and injuries.

Why Can’t You Get Noneconomic Damages with Workers’ Comp?

Workers’ compensation is meant to be a streamlined compensation system that guarantees workers benefits after a workplace accident. It can even be given to an employee who admits that their own negligence caused their injury. Practically all employers in Illinois must purchase workers’ compensation insurance to cover their employees, too.

The trade-off to the major benefits of workers’ compensation coverage is that it bars personal injury lawsuits to be filed against an employer by an injured employee in most cases. Noneconomic damages are reserved for personal injury claims and lawsuits. Since workers’ compensation is not an injury lawsuit, it will not include noneconomic damages.

The Cognitive Disorder Exception

It is possible for workers’ compensation to provide some benefits to the claimant rooted in emotional pain and suffering. If the traumatization is severe enough to trigger a cognitive disorder, then the provided workers’ compensation benefits could pay for psychotherapy, prescription medicines, and the cost of other treatments.

For example, first-responders like police officers are often witnesses to extreme violence and extremely distressing situations. If a police officer is diagnosed with anxiety and depression triggered by what they saw in the line of duty, then they could be a candidate for workers’ compensation benefits while they attempt to recuperate and recollect themselves.

Get Help for Your Workers’ Comp Claim in Chicago

McHargue & Jones, LLC offers legal representation and guidance to workers throughout Chicago who need help with their workers’ compensation claims. We can assist with initial filings, responding to insurance company inquiries, challenging denials, and more. Call (312) 739-0000 now if you need our help.