If you’ve done some Internet research on how disputes are resolved in an Illinois workers’ compensation case, you may have heard about what’s called a 19(b) petition. Or maybe your attorney has mentioned it, but you want to know more. It’s a great tool for injured workers who need to force payment of benefits.
A 19(b) petition is also called a petition for immediate hearing. You’re asking the arbitrator (who is like a judge) to resolve a dispute in your case. Often, the problem is that the insurance company isn’t giving you the full benefits you believe you’re entitled to receive. If your Temporary Total Disability benefits get cut off, for example, or if the insurance company is refusing to pay for the medical treatment you need, such as surgery, or if the insurance company is rejecting your claim because they say your injury isn’t work related, you could benefit from filing a 19(b) petition.
As the one making the claim for benefits, you will testify at the hearing. Your attorney will present your case. The other side will present theirs. It’s sort of like a mini-trial. The difference is that your entire case isn’t being decided; it’s usually just one issue that is being resolved. The goal, for you, is to have the arbitrator issue a decision in your favor and force the insurance company to do what they should have done in the first place.
A 19(b) hearing won’t be the next day, but you will get on the arbitrator’s schedule as soon as possible, usually within 15-40 days. That’s pretty quick in the legal world. You attorney will have to prepare your case, and if you haven’t already filed a formal claim for benefits, called an Application for Adjustment of Claim, you’ll have to do that first. After the hearing, the arbitrator will issue their decision, usually in 30-60 days.
If your benefits were denied or cut off, and your lawyer doesn’t seem to be doing anything about it, ask them about filing a 19(b) motion. It’s a good way to get your Illinois workers’ compensation issue heard and resolved, hopefully in your favor.
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