Illinois Court of Appeal Issues Decision in Complex Insurance Coverage Dispute Involving Injured Escalator Repairman

Work-related injuries often raise complicated issues regarding liability especially when multiple insurance companies are involved. It can be incredibly difficult to know whether an insurance company has a duty to provide coverage in a lawsuit or whether you are being treated in a fair manner. The workers’ compensation and personal injury lawyers at Therman Law Offices have helped many injured workers to receive the judgment or compensation that they deserve following a work injury and we are standing by to assist you.

Recently, the Illinois Court of Appeal considered a case involving a worker who suffered injuries while working on an escalator. A construction company had hired an escalator company as a subcontractor on a project. The injured worker was an employee for the escalator company. According to the parties’ subcontract agreement, the escalator company named the general contractor and the owner of the property where the construction was taking place as additional insureds under its insurance policy.

When the man was injured, he sued the general contractor and the owner of the premises. The general contractor deferred the claim to the escalator company that employed the worker, but it denied coverage. The general contractor then filed a complaint seeking a declaratory judgment that the escalator company’s insurer had a duty to defend and indemnify the general contractor as an additional insured. It added the escalator company as an additional defendant and argued that it may have breached the subcontract agreement by failing to have adequate insurance.

The escalator company and its insurer filed motions for judgment on the pleadings stating that the general contractor was not entitled to relief because nothing in its complaint alleged that the escalator company acted in a negligent way. The general contractor counter-argued that because the man was injured in the course and scope of employment, it was directly implicated as his employer. The trial court ultimately granted the defendant’s motion for judgment on the pleadings and denied the general contractor’s motion for reconsideration.

The general contractor appealed, and the appellate court reversed finding that the escalator company and its insurer were not entitled to judgment on the pleadings because the complaint’s allegations must be read within the context of Illinois’ Workers’ Compensation Act. Where there is silence in a complaint about an employer’s potential negligence, it must be interpreted as the possible result of employer’s immunity from tort actions where an employee is injured in the course and scope of employment. The appellate court determined that the escalator company’s insurer had a duty to defend the general contractor because the escalator company may have caused the man’s injuries in its capacity as his employer.

If you were hurt at work or you are involved in an insurance dispute involving personal injuries that you sustained as a result of someone’s negligence, then it is important for you to speak to a knowledgeable attorney right away to make sure that you are being treated fairly. Insurance companies don’t always have injured person’s best interests in mind, and it can be hard to understand your rights under a policy when you are also coping with the hardship of your injuries and the disruption in your life. Contact us today at 773-545-8849 or contact us online to get started.