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2016 Sees New Illinois Workers' Compensation Laws

Workers Compensation Laws

2016 Sees New Illinois Workers' Compensation Law

Recently, the topic of workers compensation has been dominated by the changes taking place in Illinois law. These reforms have been hotly contested among state lawmakers, and have been implemented over the last few years, with initial changes being enacted in 2011. Challenges to the law come from those who worry they won't be fair or helpful to workers, while support is underlined by the argument that the laws will bring more business (and thus, more jobs) to Illinois.

Changes in Illinois Workers Compensation Laws

Since 2011, changes have been made to workers compensation laws that are hindering injured individuals in their efforts to obtain workers compensation benefits. Several of these are already interfering with workers compensation benefits for workers in the state. These changes include:

  • New requirements that injured workers see employer-approved physicians. For workers that aren't willing to go that route, an objection must be filed in writing. When a worker chooses a physician, they no longer have the option to see another, unless that physician provides a referral. This effectively negates a worker's ability to get a second opinion regarding treatment options and diagnosis.

  • For workers who have injured hands, including carpal tunnel injuries, the level of proof has increased. In order to receive workers compensation, an injured worker must provide more proof than was previously required.

  • Physicians must now assess workers through the utilization of stricter AMA guidelines.

  • Workers who have been injured no longer have lifetime entitlement to two-thirds of the difference in pay between their original position and one that's limited. Recent changes offer compensation up to the age of 67; or for workers 63 and over, five years from the date the compensation was awarded.

These changes are making quite an impact in the state, as payments to injured workers are falling below what workers are receiving in neighboring states. A 30% cut in fees is contributing to this trend, with medical payments for individual claims also falling.

Further Changes May Be Coming

The changes to state workers compensation laws are not necessarily good for Illinois workers. Some groups worry that the new changes, and others which are also proposed, give employers a good incentive to deny benefits for injured workers in order to reduce the company's workers compensation expenditures. It has also been pointed out that these changes provide benefits to insurance companies, because as the benefits of workers compensation go down, the amount of risk to the insurance company also declines. Crystal Lake workers compensation lawyers are keeping an eagle eye on these trends and their impact to injured workers.

Cost-Saving Measures that Hurt Injured Workers

There are a number of states running experiments that allow companies to self-insure against workers compensation claims. Some are also changing workers compensation terminology to provide greater protection to insurance companies and employers, often to the detriment of their workers who have been injured on the job. Lawmakers in Illinois are considering implementing some of these experiments, even in cases where the changes won't bring any benefit to injured workers. Growing numbers of injured workers may be forced to turn to a workers compensation lawyer in Crystal Lake to secure the benefits they may be entitled to.

Workers compensation reform often comes to the forefront of lawmaking efforts when budgets are in crisis. Due to the current budget problem in Illinois, it only makes sense that further workers compensation laws will be subject to reform. These changes are expected to be put forward even though the governor recently backed off of calls for more concessions in Illinois workers compensation laws. Some lawmakers see workers compensation reform as a sure way to balance the state's budget, but workers compensation lawyers are aware that this view usually leads to reduced benefits and a bigger fight to get those benefits for injured workers.

Fighting for Workers Compensation Benefits

While the new changes to Illinois workers compensation law make it more daunting to consider filing a claim, having a workers compensation lawyers who understands Illinois law can make things much less intimidating. Insurance companies and employers are motivated to keep claims to a minimum, and may discourage injured workers from seeking the compensation they are due. With the new changes making it harder to obtain benefits, and more changes looming on the horizon, it can be difficult to know whether a claim is valid. Without proper legal representation, those who have been injured on the job in Crystal Lake may be left without the knowledge or resources to file a successful workers compensation claim. A workers compensation lawyer in Crystal Lake can help ensure that the rights of injured workers are protected throughout the claim process.

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