Unfortunately for Illinois workers, state legislation recently signed into law by Governor Pat Quinn seriously reduces their rights and protections when injured on the job. House Bill 1698 was introduced under the guise of reforming the workers compensation system in Illinois. Ultimately, however, the focus of the bill revolves around saving the state and employers money at the expense of injured Illinois workers.
The bill, which was initially defeated, was resurrected during the last hours of the recent legislative session. Though House and Senate supporters of the bill cited a need to reduce costs for businesses, the measure comes on the heels of the same legislature approving a 46% increase in the corporate income tax rate. In short, the burden of increasing state and business revenue has been passed down the line and shifted onto the most vulnerable of workers.
Illinois workers should be aware of the many changes wrought by the new legislation and the ways in which current and/or future benefits have been reduced. Some of the changes include:
- A 30% reduction in the expenses employers must pay to medical providers for the treatment of injured workers.
- Employers may institute a preferred medical provider list for injured workers. Opponents to this measure cite concerns that employer-approved physicians are more compelled to serve the best interests of the employer rather than the injured employee.
- New guidelines for determining impairment level may greatly reduce an injured workers ability to receive an appropriate level of treatment and benefits. The measure mandates the use of American Medical Association guidelines for determining impairment, which are considerably narrower than the previously used long-established definitions of disability. As these guidelines are far less inclusive of work limitations, it is even more vital that workers seek representation in protecting their rights to treatment and compensation.
- Coverage for carpal tunnel injuries has been greatly reduced. One change limits the amount and length of benefits even for workers with permanent partial disability from carpal tunnel syndrome due to repetitive trauma. The bill only allows an award for 15% loss of use of the hand, except for in “clear and compelling” cases, where they are still limited to an award based on 30% loss of use, with a maximum of 190 weeks of compensation.
Even changes to the review and arbitration of workers compensation cases stack the deck against workers, making it vital that they are armed with the most effective ways to both seek workers compensation benefits, as well as defend against a denial of their rights. More now than ever, workers who have professional assistance in seeking compensation are far more likely to achieve successful results. If you have been injured on the job, be sure to contact a Chicago workers compensation lawyer for assistance.
About the Author: Brooke Haley marketing associate at Millon & Peskin, Chicago workers compensation lawyer that practice in the areas of Civil Litigation, Workers’ Compensation, and Personal Injury. Millon & Peskin is a General Civil Litigation Practice with the goal of representing the interests of injured workers, throughout all applicable Courts within the State of Illinois. For more information, please visit http://www.millonpeskin.com.