Illinois Appellate Court Affirms Dismissal of Civil Claim Against Temporary Employer Based on the Borrowed Employee Doctrine

The workers’ compensation system is designed to provide benefits for injured workers if the injury occurred in the course and scope of the worker’s employment. This can create legal issues regarding whether an employee should seek compensation from an employer through the claims process or in civil court. One area where issues tend to arise the most is situations involving temp agencies and other third-party employers. Our seasoned team of Chicago work injury lawyers is ready to help you ensure that you pursue your right to compensation in the appropriate way.

Recently, an appellate court considered a case in which an injured man filed a civil claim against a manufacturing company seeking compensation for personal injuries he allegedly sustained while working at the manufacturing company’s premises through a temp agency. The plaintiff was reportedly operating a forklift when it fell from inside of the tractor-trailer as the tractor-trailer moved away from the loading dock.

The plaintiff originally filed a workers’ compensation claim against the manufacturing company, but it instructed the worker to file a workers’ compensation claim against the temp agency. The worker filed this claim and received benefits from the temp agency.

In response to the civil suit against it, the manufacturing company asserted a number of defenses including a defense stating that the plaintiff was barred from seeking personal injury compensation through a civil proceeding because his injury occurred during the course and scope of employment. It asserted that it was merely borrowing the worker as an employee and that it was not required to pay benefits to him, but that it was also not liable in civil court for his damages. The lower court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment on this defense and the plaintiff appealed.

On review, the court affirmed the dismissal of the action finding that the manufacturing company maintained a borrowed employee relationship with the worker and as a result, the workers’ compensation system governed his injury and benefits. One of the primary factors that a court looks at to determine whether a borrowed employee relationship exists is whether the defendant had the ability to direct and control the plaintiff’s work. Ample evidence in the record showed that the manufacturing company was giving the worker direction and that the staffing agency was largely uninvolved with his day-to-day activities.

It also found sufficient evidence showing that the plaintiff agreed to work for the manufacturing company because he had accepted the assignment, used the manufacturing company’s equipment, and knew that he was working for another employer.

If you think that you suffered an injury at work, contact Therman Law Offices’ workers’ compensation lawyers immediately to start learning about whether you are entitled to compensation. We know that the system can be confusing and overwhelming, which is why we offer a free consultation to discuss your situation and our services. We have assisted many injured workers with a variety of injury types including sudden injuries as well as long-term injuries. To schedule your free consultation call us at 773-545-8849 or contact us online.