State laws Workplace exposures

New Illinois law amends statute of limitations on civil suits over workplace exposure to toxic substances

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Photo: CGinspiration/iStockphoto

Springfield, IL — A new Illinois law permits workers who have developed latent injuries or illnesses from on-the-job exposure to toxic substances to pursue legal judgments against employers beyond the previous statute of limitations.

Signed into law May 17 by Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) and effective immediately, S.B. 1596 makes exceptions to the 25-year statute of limitations imposed by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act and the Workers’ Occupational Diseases Act for cases of workplace exposure to toxic substances such as asbestos, radiation and beryllium, allowing affected workers to seek civil damages beyond that time frame.


Sen. Elgie R. Sims Jr. (D-Chicago), a co-sponsor of the legislation along with Rep. Jay Hoffman (D-Belleville), said in a May 20 press release that many workers who suffer injuries and illnesses from exposures to toxic substances don’t experience symptoms for 30 to 50 years.

“The past law was a death sentence for people diagnosed with serious illnesses who aren’t given the proper time to take care of their poor health,” Sims said in the release. “For far too long, employees have suffered from bad workplace conditions with no source of relief.”

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