There were a number of changes implemented to Illinois Workers Compensation Act this summer that have Mchenry workers compensation attorneys explaining these changes to clients. These changes are having a widespread impact on claims throughout the state and its important to know whether these changes will affect your case before filing or pursuing it further.
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Among the list of changes, the state has been divided into regions, with each being assigned a team of three arbitrators. Claimants filing emergency claims will be assigned an arbitrator from their region, however, their case may be initially heard in another region. This will require claimants to travel to attend their hearing. In some cases, this may mean several hundred miles one-way.
Another key change is that claimants are now required to visit a doctor within their employer's PPO before seeking outside consultation. However, if the worker does not wish to do this, they can still notify their employer in writing that they are desiring to seek outside consultation. If a worker chooses that route, the physician they choose must be within an existing line of referral from the original doctor within the PPO list provided by the employer.
In addition to these most notable changes, the AMA guidelines will now be used by physicians to determine the percentage loss of an injured limb. This had been previously prohibited. These guidelines will now be factored in by the arbitrator in addition to age, the type of injury, and profession of a claimant. Thus, awards will be heavily influenced by the type of work a worker is expected to perform and the impact the injury will have on that specific profession.
Finally, restrictions on wage loss compensation are significant. Under the previous act, workers were entitled to receive 2/3 of the difference in their wages between pre and post-injury income for life. Under the new act, workers are only eligible to receive this income until the age of 67. Thus, it will create a considerable hindrance on workers wishing to work part-time later into their lives.
Ultimately, these changes are anything but worker friendly and will make filing claims, processing claims, and receiving just compensation more difficult than in the past. Together, the changes implemented this summer add several layers of bureaucracy and will make it considerably more cumbersome for workers which will mean that Illinois workers' compensation could be delayed and that workers will be required to bear that burden.