Here Is One Way To Mess Up Your Case

So on Friday there was a crazy situation at the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission in Chicago. I wasn’t there and am not one to gossip, but when you hear the same story from multiple sources and it can provide a lesson to readers I have to share. And it’s really not even a lesson, but rather just crazy and funny because if you didn’t know not to do this then there is no helping you.

Apparently some injured worker was in the courtroom of Arbitrator Zanotti who is a new Arbitrator. From what I was told, the lawyer for this worker was asking to withdraw from the case and the lack of merit that the case had was being discussed. The worker did not like it and allegedly was becoming threatening and had to be forcibly restrained by the Illinois State Police that are in the building for security. A friend of mine was in the courtroom next door and said there was a lot of screaming and banging on the walls. It’s big news because while there have been incidents over there throughout the years, they are few and far between.

I can’t imagine that anyone I’d represent or that I’d refer to a colleague to represent would do something like this. But it’s surely the best way to mess up your case if you even had one to begin with. Showing the Arbitrator that you are a tad crazy is not going to endear you to them and even if this was just a momentary loss of reason, this case is likely over.

Fortunately nobody got hurt and life as we know it was able to move on. I feel sorry for whatever claimant had to go in that room after this all happened. I don’t know Arbitrator Zanotti, but have heard he’s very competent and objective which is all you can ask for. But it would be human nature to be on the edge for whoever was in there next. Which goes to show you that when you go to trial, it’s not always just the facts that matter. Sometimes the mood of a Judge can play a huge role.

We are workers' compensation attorneys who help people with Illinois work injuries anywhere in IL via our statewide network of attorneys. Contact us and we will answer your questions or find the right lawyer for your situation.

5/6/12

Overview of the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission

The Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission is where all work injury cases in Illinois get filed.  The main location is in Chicago and that's where all of the paperwork gets filed along with the majority of trials.  There are hearing locations for trials on disputed cases all over the state.  Some of the locations include Rockford, Waukegan, Woodstock, Wheaton, Geneva, Joliet, Decatur, Rock Island, Peoria and Quincy (and that is only about half of them). 

These cases are not lawsuits so when you file a claim you don't pay a filing fee and you aren't assigned to a Judge.  Rather you get assigned to an Arbitrator.  Every 60 days your case comes up for a status hearing before the Arbitrator your case is assigned to.  Usually nothing happens at those hearings unless you are not receiving benefits and your lawyer files a motion on your behalf to get a trial date.  Most areas of the state have only one Arbitrator.  You are usually assigned to the Arbitrator that is closest to the place where your accident took place.

If you go to trial and don't like the result (or the insurance company doesn't like the result) you can appeal.  At that time the Workers Compensation Commission will assign your case to a panel of three Commissioners.  There are nine Commissioners for the entire State and they travel around the State hearing the different appeals.  They don't hear evidence - in other words you won't be testifying again - but do read the trial transcript, read memos written by the lawyers about the case and typically give each attorney five minutes to argue why they think the case should be decided in their favor.

Every year approximately 60,000 cases are filed with the Workers' Compensation Commission.  Given that high volume it's pretty impressive that if you want to go to trial and your lawyer is organized, you can usually get a hearing whenever you need it. 

The Commission is also responsible for investigating businesses that don't care work comp insurance as that is a felony in Illinois.  They also report to State leaders and help with investigations of work injury fraud. 

And that's about everything you could want to know about the organization that decides your fate if you are hurt on the job.

We are workers' compensation attorneys that help people with Illinois work injuries anywhere in IL via our statewide network of attorneys.  Contact us and we will answer your questions or find the right lawyer for your situation.

Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission News

Straight from the IWCC presses:

Insurance agent convicted on wc fraud

Reuben Collier, Jr., of Collier Insurance Agency in Waukegan, has pled guilty to three felony charges of theft, forgery, and workers’ compensation fraud.  He collected money from 22 north suburban businesses for workers’ compensation insurance, issued false certificates of insurance, never secured coverage, and pocketed the $400,000. For more information, go to
http://www.iwcc.il.gov/collier.pdf

To date, the Illinois Department of Insurance Fraud Unit has referred cases that led to seven convictions of claimants, and now one conviction against an insurance agent.  New indictments continue to come in.  Congratulations to the IDOI.

To report a possible case of fraud, contact Francis "Buzz" Walsh in the Workers' Compensation Investigative Unit at the Illinois Department of Insurance (francis.walsh@illinois.gov; toll-free 877/923-8648; 320 W. Washington, Springfield, IL 62786).


New MS-DRG hospital inpatient fee schedule is coming soon

Soon the Commission will post a new hospital inpatient fee schedule that uses the new MS-DRG codes.  Medicare changed its inpatient coding from the DRG (Diagnosis Related Group) to the MS-DRG (Medical Severity-Diagnosis Related Group) system, and the Commission is adapting to the change.  As provided for in our rules, the Commission shall convert the inpatient schedule no later than June 30, 2009.  

To allow some transition time, the Workers’ Compensation Medical Fee Advisory Board and the Commission ask providers and payers to cooperate and follow a July 31, 2009 effective date.  
 

Commission closed July 3

The Commission will be closed on Friday, July 3, in honor of Independence Day. 

 

We are workers' compensation attorneys that help people with Illinois work injuries anywhere in IL via our statewide network of attorneys.  Contact us and we will answer your questions or find the right lawyer for your situation.


 

Straight from the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission

 

(http://www.iwcc.il.gov/coverage.htm) or contact the Commission (inscompquestions.wcc@illinois.gov; toll-free 866/352-3033).

We are workers' compensation attorneys that help people with Illinois work injuries anywhere in IL via our statewide network of attorneys.  Contact us and we will answer your questions or find the right lawyer for your situation.

 

It speaks for itself.  We think it's great.

Employer closed down for failure to obtain WC insurance

For the first time, an Illinois business has been shut down for failure to obtain workers¹ compensation insurance. The Illinois Workers¹ Compensation Commission and the City of Evanston shut down All Good Dogs Pet Care, also known as The Hungry Pup, an Evanston storefront at 941 Chicago Avenue, with dog-walkers in six suburbs.

Four individuals have filed workers¹ compensation claims against the company. Two individuals have been found eligible for workers¹ compensation, but the employer has not paid any benefits.

³We gave the employer every opportunity to comply with the law,² said Jan Eisbart, manager of the IWCC Insurance Compliance Division. ³All they had to do was get insurance and they have not complied. They did not respond to our letters or even appear at the hearing. They forced our hand.²

Eisbart takes this occasion to remind all employers of their obligation to purchase workers¹ compensation insurance. Employers may be fined up to $500 for each day without insurance, with a minimum fine of $10,000. Corporate officers may be held personally liable and/or sent to prison.

In 2005, the legislature strengthened the law by giving the Commission the authority to issue a work-stop order on an employer that has been found to knowingly fail to carry insurance.

Anyone may check an employer¹s insurance coverage on the IWCC website

Signing a severance shouldn't cause you to lose Illinois worker's compensation rights

We recently were called by someone who needed a Rockford carpal tunnel lawyer.  He was concerned because he has been laid off and his employer wants him to sign a severance agreement that states he will forfeit the right to pursue Illinois workers' compensation benefits or any action at the Illinois Worker's Compensation Commission.

We told him to sign the document because according to Section 23 of the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act, only an approved settlement contract from an Arbitrator can cause someone to give up their work injury rights.   Since this severance was not being entered into at the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission, we do not believe that any rights will be lost for him.

All that said, if you are offered a severance agreement and might have a work injury or any other right under Illinois or Federal law, it is extremely important that you have an attorney review that document as failure to do so could cause you to lose some rights forever.

We are workers' compensation attorneys that help people with Illinois work injuries anywhere in IL via our statewide network of attorneys.  Contact us and we will answer your questions or find the right lawyer for your situation.

Be 100% honest with your doctor in describing your job activities

We represent a lot of people that have repetitive trauma injuries like carpal tunnel, De Quervain's tenosynovitis and herniated discs in your back or neck.  Unlike a specific accident such as slipping on a wet floor or lifting a box and feeling a pop in your back, repetitive trauma injuries don't always have a specific date that you can point to as when your problem started.  Most people notice some pain and try to work there way through it or assume it will go away.

Illinois workers' compensation law states that the accident date for repetitive trauma injuries is the date you knew or reasonably should have known that you had the injury and it was related to your job duties.  Reasonable minds can disagree on that and many injured workers in Illinois have lost their case over that issue.

If you suspect that your job may have played a role in contributing to your injury it is important that you are 100% honest with your doctor about what your job duties involve.  Doctors are there to treat the injury.  Many won't make a comment about whether or not the injury is work related unless you ask.  When you do ask be very descriptive about what your duties involve.  In other words make clear how many hours a day you type, how often you are lifting heavy objects and what they way, how many parts you move an hour on an assembly line, etc.  The more descriptive that you are the better the chance that your doctor will understand the true role your work activities played in your injury occurring.

 

In almost every injury that occurs from repetitive work, we can not win your case unless you have a doctor that is in your corner.  The doctor must state that your job either caused, aggravated OR accelerated your condition.  When you give a crystal clear description of your job duties that really paints a picture of what you do, it is likely that your doctor will give the right answer.

We are workers' compensation attorneys that help people with Illinois work injuries anywhere in IL via our statewide network of attorneys.  Contact us and we will answer your questions or find the right lawyer for your situation.

Illinois TTD Benefits If You Are Fired

In a recent Appellate Court decision that may end up in the hands of the Illinois Supreme Court, the law on what happens to fired employees under workers' compensation was changed.  It was decided that if an employee is working a light duty job or is off work and receiving TTD (Temporary Total Disability) benefits and the employee if fired "for cause" then the employer no longer owes benefits.

Previously the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission ruled that if you had any restrictions and were let go from your job you were owed TTD benefits.  In other words, you could have spit in the face of your boss, gotten fired and received benefits.

The big issue for injured Illinois workers is what does "for cause" mean.  In our opinion it has to be a legitimate termination.  In other words, if you are let go for misconduct we probably can't help you.  But if you are let go because of the bad economy, a personality conflict, because you punched in five minutes late or anything else that seems to be about fairness not fault then we believe you are entitled to continued job injury benefits while you still have restrictions.

We are workers' compensation attorneys that help people with Illinois work injuries anywhere in IL via our statewide network of attorneys.  Contact us and we will answer your questions or find the right lawyer for your situation.