Illinois Workers' Compensation - Legislation News

 

The Illinois workers' compensation system and the rights of injured workers are being threatened by Illinois lawmakers.  We will update this page with the latest workers' compensation news in Illinois

 

December 15, 2014

The following letter to the editor by ITLA President John D. Cooney was published in The Madison County Record on December 12, 2014, in response to this letter.
 
ITLA: Governor should sign SB2221
December 12, 2014
Dear Editor:
Asbestos is the quintessential example of corporations knowing that they were marketing deadly products and covering up the evidence for profit. By the 1930s, asbestos manufacturers were aware that their workers were dying at alarming rates, yet they hid the dangers for more than half a century. For decades millions of construction workers unknowingly used the dangerous material as insulation, for fire retardation and many other purposes without proper precautions.

 Men and women with mesothelioma, a type of cancer that results from exposure to asbestos, suffer a terrible death. The tumors characteristic of this cruel disease grow and harden around their victims’ hearts, lungs and abdominal walls, leading to intense pain and eventual suffocation.

Most mesothelioma patients die within one or two years of diagnosis, but it is extraordinarily rare, only about 1 percent of cases, for symptoms to manifest any earlier than 15 years after exposure. Due to this disease’s long latency period, the median range is 30 to 45 years before the problem becomes apparent. Under current Illinois law, the vast majority of those individuals would never have an opportunity to receive compensation for the grievous harms done to them.
Legislation recently approved by the Illinois General Assembly, Senate Bill 2221, would remove the current 10-year limit to bring a case in response to what medical science now tells us about the typical prolonged course of this horrible disease. Science makes all of the wonders of the modern world possible – from cell phones, to satellites, to lifesaving health care technologies – and it is only logical that we would use the insights furnished by modern research to revise our laws so that they reflect current knowledge, rather than continue to rely on thinking that is decades out of date. The law should not be static in the face of new information.
There is nothing frivolous or improper about workers dying of asbestos exposure to want to hold accountable the companies whose negligence is responsible for their painful fates. Nor is there anything untoward about courts moving expeditiously to hear these cases. When victims of asbestos-related disease seek justice, time is of the essence. It has been more than three decades since asbestos was in wide commercial use and the number of people who may have suffered harm is dwindling. Unfortunately, many have passed away without the opportunity to pursue fair compensation for their injuries.
It is regrettable that corporations and construction firms that profited from using asbestos despite the known dangers to their employees prefer to spend millions of dollars on fact-free propaganda and fear campaigns, rather than accept moral and financial responsibility for the human toll of their poor decisions.
Governor Quinn should sign Senate Bill 2221 into law and provide an opportunity to mesothelioma victims to pursue the justice they have been denied for too long.
John D. Cooney, President
Illinois Trial Lawyers Association


 

December 10, 2014

The following letter to the editor by ITLA President John D. Cooney was published in the Chicago Tribune on November 22, 2014.


Chicago Tribune, November 22, 2014


At a time of record corporate profits and a booming stock market that has not translated into gains for middle and lower-income Americans, the Tribune (“A minimum wage hike?”, Nov. 18) joins Gov.-Elect Bruce Rauner to demand that workers should fund a higher minimum wage by weakening currently modest workplace protections and eroding the right to reasonable compensation for those who suffer catastrophic injuries.


The linkage of these two issues is another front in the 40-year war on American workers that has left the average person with less wealth, real income, and economic security and is undermining the strength of our nation. 


Two-thirds of voters in the November election supported raising the minimum wage from $8.25 to $10 per hour. That clearly expressed will of the people came with no conditions attached.


The 2011 workers’ comp “reform” law lowered costs for Illinois employers. Workers gave up longstanding rights and insurance companies, in return, were to be transparent with pricing and pass savings along to employers through premium reductions.


According to an Oregon study, Illinois had the steepest reduction in workers’ compensation rates, 24 percent, between 2012 and 2014. If insurance companies followed National Council on Compensation Insurance recommendations, employers could have realized an additional $1 billion in premium decreases. Instead, insurance companies pocketed the difference while disingenuously continuing to blame protections that help workers and their families attain justice when they are badly hurt or killed due to business corner-cutting and negligence.


It’s also a fact that, since 2007, the number of civil lawsuits filed in Illinois has dropped nearly 25 percent. Injury lawsuits make up just 6 percent of all civil cases filed in state courts. Businesses and insurance companies initiate most civil litigation; nearly 70 percent of such cases involve businesses suing other businesses or individuals for money.


Illinois lawmakers would do well to reject race-to-the-bottom policies that leave most of their constituents poorer and more vulnerable, while benefitting only a few at the very top, who have done just fine and work in very safe office suites and boardrooms.


John D. Cooney
President
Illinois Trial Lawyers Association

 

 

April 27, 2012

A message from President Barack Obama regarding Workers Memorial Day, in memory of those killed or injured due to unsafe working conditions.

 

July 20, 2011

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn issued a press release today which stated that Richard Aleksy, one of the partners of Corti, Aleksy & Castaneda, has been named to be one of only 12 appointees to the Illinois Workers' Compensation Advisory Board.  This press release can be viewed at http://www.illinois.gov/PressReleases/ShowPressRelease.cfm?SubjectID=1&RecNum=9554.

 

More information regarding this honor can be found at our Work Comp Awards page.

 

 

June 30, 2011

Richard Aleksy, one of the partners of Corti, Aleksy & Castaneda, speaks about the recent changes to the Illinois Workers Compensation Act in a video found at the following address:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9gvGfdFKpLo&feature=channel_video_title.

 

 

June 1, 2011

Update:  On May 31, 2011, Illinois House Bill 1698 was passed in both the Illinois House of Representatives and the Illinois Senate.  This bill makes changes to Illinois Workers Compensation law.  Here is a summary of Illinois House Bill 1698:


 

"Replaces everything after the enacting clause. Amends the Department of Central Management Services Law of the Civil Administrative Code of Illinois, the Code of Civil Procedure, and the Workers' Compensation Act. Makes numerous changes concerning the following in relation to workers' compensation: plans by the Department of Central Management Services for State employees, creation of the State Workers' Compensation Program Advisory Board, subpoenas, burden of proof, Commissioner and arbitrator standards of conduct, employee leasing companies, citations, construction employer collective bargaining, negotiated rate, wage differential, preferred provider programs, permanent partial disability, out-of-state fees, fee schedules, electronic claims, utilization review programs, employee intoxication, Commissioner qualifications, the Workers' Compensation Advisory Board, arbitrator appointments, prohibitions on gifts, claims brought by commission employees, carpal tunnel syndrome, fraud, sentencing, advisory premium rates, and insurance oversight. Makes other changes. Contains a severability provision. Effective immediately."

 

We will provide more information about this in the days to come.  Please return to our website for more information.  Thank you for your support of injured workers in Illinois.

  

 

May 31, 2011

The Illinois Workers Compensation Act is under attack by Illinois lawmakers.  Illinois Senate Bill 1933 threatens to repeal the Illinois Workers Compensation Act.  This threatens to take away the rights of injured workers in Illinois.  Please take a moment to contact your Illinois State Senators and Representatives (see how to contact below) and tell them to vote "No" to Illinois Senate Bill 1933.

    

Please act now.  This is URGENT.  They could be voting on these issues at any moment up until midnight of May 31, 2011.

    

You can find your State Senator and State Representative's phone numbers by visiting http://www.elections.il.gov/DistrictLocator/DistrictOfficialSearchByAddress.aspx and entering your home address.  You may also call the State Board of Elections at (217)782-4141 [press zero].

Thank you for your support in standing up for the rights of injured Illinois workers.


 

 

May 18, 2011

Dear Friend,

If you are reading this, we need your help in fighting for the rights of injured Illinois workers.  Please contact your Illinois State Senators and Representatives (see how to contact below) and tell them to vote "No" to attempts to take away the human rights of Illinois workers who have a work injury, outrageously called "work comp reform." 

Tell them you oppose any changes to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act.

Please act now.  This is URGENT.  They could be voting on these issues at any moment.

Examples of actions that Illinois lawmakers are threatening to take:

 
  1. Taking away doctor choice.
  2. Letting out-of-state doctors and nurses control care.
  3. Replacing Illinois' best doctors with doc-in-a-box drive thru company
    clinics.
  4. Changing disability standards.

  

You can find your State Senator and State Representative's phone numbers by visiting http://www.elections.il.gov/DistrictLocator/DistrictOfficialSearchByAddress.aspx and entering your home address.  You may also call the State Board of Elections at (217)782-4141 [press zero].

Thank you for your support.


 

 

May 5, 2011

Illinois lawmakers are still trying to damage the Illinois workers' compensation system and take away the rights of injured Illinois workers.  Senate Bill 1422 serves as more evidence.  See below for the official synopsis of Senate Bill 1422 in the Illinois General Assembly


 

Synopsis As Introduced 

Amends the Workers' Compensation Act. Makes a technical change in a Section concerning the computation of time. Replaces everything after the enacting clause. Amends the Workers' Compensation Act. Defines "accident" and "injury." Provides standards of conduct for Commissioners and arbitrators. Provides for limited binding agreements between construction employers and labor organizations. Provides that for 60 days from the report of injury to the employer, the employer shall choose all necessary medical services reasonably required, and that the employee may secure his own physician and medical services after 60 days from the report of injury. Provides that no employer shall be required to pay temporary partial disability benefits to an employee who has been discharged for cause. Provides that an employer may utilize a preferred provider program approved by the Illinois Department of Insurance to satisfy its liabilities. Provides that an award for wage differential shall be effective only until the employee reaches the age of 67 or 5 years from the date of the award, whichever is later. Provides for a new determination of permanent partial disability for injuries occurring on or after December 31, 2011. Moves the utilization review program registration and administration to the Department of Insurance. Makes numerous other changes concerning privacy, employee intoxication, fee schedules, prescriptions, billing and best practices reports, utilization review, signature certification, a ban on gifts, fraud, sentencing, and annual reports. Effective immediately.


 

5/3/2011 - Last action - Rule 2-10 Third Reading Deadline Established As May 31, 2011

 

May 1, 2011

The article below was published in the Belleville News Democrat

 

"Workers deserve continued full protection if hurt on the job"

By Todd A. Smith


 

"On Saturday, November 13, 1909, nearly 500 men and boys as young as 11-years-old were working in a Cherry, Illinois, mine. An accidental fire ignited, spreading to the timbers that supported the mine and the fan that brought fresh air in to the immigrant workers. Two shafts were closed to smother the fire, creating "black damp," a suffocating mixture of carbon dioxide and nitrogen. Despite their heroic attempts, twelve rescuers were among the 259 who were burned to death on that day when cage operators misunderstood the miners' signals to bring them to the surface.


 

From the tragedy of the Cherry Mine Disaster, the Illinois legislature established stronger mine safety regulations to protect the workers - workers who risk their lives in dangerous working conditions. Then in 1911 Illinois passed a separate law, which would later develop into the Illinois Workmen's Compensation Act.


 

Recently, the rights of Illinois injured workers' have become a political football. We've heard stories about alleged abuses at the Menard Correctional Center. Any abuse of the system - by either employers or employees - should not be tolerated. But abuse should not be the cause for diminishing the rights of those with completely legitimate claims.


 

Your recent commentary suggested reforms without the so called "causation" reform would be no reform at all. Let's be clear. The law already requires, and has for a long time, that ones injury must occur "in the course of employment."  Benefits are awarded only when the employee is doing his or her job and the injury occurs related to that activity. We've also heard claims that "drunk or high" workers are currently entitled to workers compensation. Wrong again. The current law already allows a denial of benefits in cases where intoxication of an employee is the cause of the accident. 


 

You also declared recently that what amounts to a dramatic reduction in injured workers' rights are the single most important thing to be done to get job growth.  This is said without an ounce of data to support it.  Did you ever consider that ensuring regular hard working people's rights to quality care and appropriate income support when injured on the job actually benefits Illinois business as well?  It's a win-win.  Quality workers are properly cared for, and their families supported where income is lost when an injury has occurred during the course of their employment. 


 

The truth is businesses are positive about Illinois and doing well here also.  Just this year Ford Motor Company made a long-term commitment to Illinois.  American Aluminum Extrusion Co., currently based in Beloit, WI, is making a new home in Illinois. At the same time, insurance costs are not hurting the bottom line of corporations like McDonalds, whose net income topped $4.95 billion in 2010. Kraft Foods netted $4.11 billion. And Caterpillar, $2.70 billion. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co reported a net income of $1.8 billion.


 

In a state of 12 million people, the number of workers' compensation claims have dropped from approximately 80,000 to 50,000 in the last decade. Yet premiums are continuing to climb. If there are problems for the business community, and the premiums they pay for coverage, maybe a closer look at the insurance industry and its lack of regulation is needed. We have urged legislators to focus on insurance reform. 


 

Neighboring states have altered their workers' compensation systems at the expense of injured workers, only to further pad the profits of corporate America.  We urge Illinois lawmakers to reject these anti-worker proposals and continue to protect the rights of those injured."


 

Todd A. Smith is President of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association.


 

 

April 14, 2011

Workers Comp – Initiative” Senate Bill 1349 was brought to a vote in the Illinois Senate on April 14, 2011.  This was an attempt to damage the Illinois workers compensation system and take away the rights of the injured worker.  See below for the official synopsis of Senate Bill 1349 in the Illinois General Assembly


 

Synopsis As Introduced
“Amends the Workers' Compensation Act. Defines "accident" and "injury." Deletes language allowing rebuttable presumptions for an employee employed as a firefighter, emergency medical technician (EMT), or paramedic. Deletes language allowing an employee to secure his own physician, surgeon and hospital services at the employer's expense. Provides that the employer shall choose all necessary medical, surgical and hospital services reasonably required to cure or relieve from the effects of the accidental injury at the employer's expense, except upon a finding by the Commission that the employer's choice of medical care threatens life, health, or recovery, then the employee may choose a second physician, surgeon, and hospital services at the employer's expense. Provides for a waiver of employee privacy for the employer to obtain necessary decision making information. Provides for a wage differential award and that such award shall cease when the employee reaches the full retirement age as defined by the Social Security Administration. Provides for reimbursement of out-of-state procedures, treatments, services, products or supplies. Provides for a new medical fee schedule after January 1, 2012, in accordance with the Medicare payment systems (160%). Moves the utilization review program registration and administration to the Department of Insurance. Makes numerous changes regarding employee intoxication, partial or total disability, implants, employment verification documents, and other changes.


 

Replaces everything after the enacting clause. Amends the Workers' Compensation Act. Defines "accident" and "injury." Provides standards of conduct for Commissioners and arbitrators. Provides for limited binding agreements between construction employers and labor organizations. Provides that for 60 days from the report of injury to the employer, the employer shall choose all necessary medical services reasonably required, and that the employee may secure his own physician and medical services after 60 days from the report of injury. Provides that no employer shall be required to pay temporary partial disability benefits to an employee who has been discharged for cause. Provides that an employer may utilize a preferred provider program approved by the Illinois Department of Insurance to satisfy its liabilities. Provides that an award for wage differential shall be effective only until the employee reaches the age of 67 or 5 years from the date of the award, whichever is later. Provides for a new determination of permanent partial disability for injuries occurring on or after December 31, 2011. Moves the utilization review program registration and administration to the Department of Insurance. Makes numerous other changes concerning privacy, employee intoxication, fee schedules, prescriptions, billing and best practices reports, utilization review, signature certification, a ban on gifts, fraud, sentencing, and annual reports. Effective immediately.”


 

This “Workers Comp – Initiative” Senate Bill 1349 failed to pass.  However, at this very minute, Illinois lawmakers continue to try to take away the rights of injured workers.  Contact your local and state reps today, and tell them you oppose changes to the Illinois Workers Compensation Act.

 

 

 
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