Skip to main content

What is the difference between filing a personal injury case versus a workers compensation case?

Chicago, IL |

I was injured while on the job doing outside sales for a construction company. Signed 1099 as an independent contractor but treated as an employee. company had about 30 other salespeople all with signed W-2's. No one received salary, hourly, or benefits of any kind.

+ Read More

Attorney answers 8


Your situation is common among Workers' Compensation matters and requires an attorney to review the parameters of your work factors. Iliinois law has many cases on point. Please see one of the many qualified attorneys here or in Chicago, who, like my firm, deal with these disputes every day.

Jordan Margolis
The Margolis Firm PC
55 W. Monroe, Suite 3555
Chicago, Il. 60603

Legal Disclaimer: If this information has been helpful, please indicate by clicking the thumbs-up icon below. Mr. Margolis is licensed to practice law in Illinois. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. You may contact the writer with these links: When an accident changes your life, we pursue justice for you.


You file a WC claim if you are an Employee, and a Personal Injury claim if you are an Independent Contractor. That part is easy. Determining which one you legally were is the harder part. A WC Attorney in IL can probably help you sort it out.

We offer general concepts, but you should give ALL your facts to a licensed Attorney in your state before you RELY upon any legal advice.


Workers' compensation is a social insurance system set up about a hundred years ago to allow workers hurt on the job to get paid promptly, regardless of who was at fault, in a less adversarial setting than a courtroom, and under rules more favorable than those that existed in the world of tort law at the time. In return for receiving payments under this system, you give up some rights that you would have in the tort system, including a jury trial and the possibility of large damages. Whether you are supposed to be covered by an employer's insurance policy under the WC law is not up to your employer, and if the employer is supposed to insure its workers and doesn't, you may still be able to file a WC claim. I agree with previous responders that which system you fall into is a complicated question, for which you should consult an Illinois employment lawyer,

Disclaimer: This site exists to provide information only. It is not legal advice. Answering your question does not create an attorney-client relationship. I am a Massachusetts lawyer. Any information provided on this site does not, except as explicitly stated, imply familiarity with laws or procedures peculiar to your state which may differ from those where I practice.


Workers' comp is your exclusive remedy for work injuries in Illinois and is not a lawsuit for negligence.

Stephen L. Hoffman
Law Office of Stephen L. Hoffman LLC
Chicago, IL

This answer posted on Avvo is for informational and educational purposes only. There is no attorney-client relationship created or formed and you should not rely on this as legal advice. The suggestion is made that if you wish to protect your rights, you consult with an attorney immediately.


This is always a complicated situation made more problematic by the way Employer's try to categorize people, even when they are really employees. This is common in construction jobs, and you need help from an experienced attorney. A personal injury case can be filed when someone else's negligence causes your injury. A worker's compensation claim is filed when you were hurt on the job and you are covered by your employer's worker's compensation coverage. Many times there was no negligence involved in the injury. Even if the Employer was negligent, if you are an employee and worker's compensation is provided to you, you cannot assert a claim for personal injury against your company. Some construction companies try to avoid coverage by calling you an independent contractor. You should speak to an attorney.


You say that you were in sales. If your injury was caused by the negligence of anyone or anything other than a co-worker of YOUR company, You MAY have TWO cases. It is critical that you find counsel who is well-experienced in BOTH WC cases and Personal Injury cases because the effort MUST be coordinated on the two claims. Discuss your case with more than one attorney BEFORE you sign anything. Make sure that any attorney you choose has sufficient knowledge and experience to do the best job for you AND that they will take the time to explain what is going on, throughout their representation. There is nothing more frustrating than not being able to ask your attorney a question (or get an answer) for weeks. Good luck.

Candiano Law Office

Charles J. Candiano
53 West Jackson Blvd.
Suite 1337
Chicago, IL 60604
(312) 465-2914 telephone
(312) 624--8184 fax


“You can't live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.”– John Wooden

If this information has been helpful, please indicate by clicking the up icon. Legal Disclaimer: Mr. Candiano is licensed to practice law in Illinois and Indiana. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Links:

Stephen Laurence Hoffman

Stephen Laurence Hoffman


For attorneys like Mr. Candiano and I who handle both WC and PI cases, it may mean that is a good fit. For example, If you are rear ended by another driver while en route to a sales call, you have a WC versus employer and a negligence case vs other driver. Hope that helps your understanding.


Your question should be whether your independent contractor status precludes you from workers comp, and a local workers comp lawyer can make that determination.

Stephen Laurence Hoffman

Stephen Laurence Hoffman


Or whether you are an independent contractor at all. Many "employees" are really not and vice versa. See a local attorney to weigh your options.


You will want to speak with a lawyer that has experience in both workers' compensation and personal injury, there are numerous attorneys who practice in both areas in Chicago.

The attorney will determine if you are truly an employee or independent contractor (tax designations are often wrong) and the identity of the person or company responsible for the injury.

If you are an employee and the injury was only caused by your employer then you will be dealing with workers' comp. If you are truly an independent contractor, your injury will fall under general negligence law. If you are an employee and were injured by a third party, both types of claims may be possible.

You should schedule a consultation with a lawyer immediately, lawyers in this area generally do not charge for a consultation.

Though we strive to provide accurate legal information in our answers on AVVO, our answer should not be construed as legal advice and it does not create an attorney-client relationship. Our firm only forms attorney-client relationships by written agreement signed by both our firm and the client. Please seek an in-person consultation with an attorney immediately as almost all legal matters are time sensitive and failing to meet deadlines can result in adverse consequences.

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer