PPD and TTD Rates For 2023 In Illinois Work Comp

Under Illinois workers’ compensation law, you are entitled to payment for your time off of work. This payment is called temporary total disability or TTD. You are also eligible for a settlement (although they don’t have to give one) if you are hurt on the job and that is called permanent partial disability or PPD.

How much you will get depends on what your TTD and PPD rates are. TTD is 2/3 of your average weekly wage, but it is subject to a maximum weekly amount. The PPD rate is 60% of your average weekly wage and also is subject to a maximum amount. Those amounts are based off of what workers make on average state wide. The new benefit rates for 2023 have been recently posted by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission.

The current state average weekly wage, as of January 15, 2023, is $1,386.15. That means that the TTD maximum rate for accidents on or after that date will be $1848.20. By comparison, that’s approximately $350 higher than the maximum from 2019.

For PPD, the current maximum was set July 1, 2022 and is valid for accidents through June 30, 2023. That rate is $998.02. It’s also a large increase from 2019, more than $150 higher. The end result is that settlements in Illinois workers compensation claims are worth more than they ever have. If you are injured in 2023, don’t estimate a possible settlement off of a similar injury from five years ago. Your case is likely worth much more.

Note that in cases of death, amputation or permanent disability, the PPD rate is actually the same as what is used for TTD. There is also a minimum rate which as of January 15, 2023 is now $693.08. So if a loved one died on the job, even if they were a low wage or part time worker, the weekly benefit would be at least $693.08 and as much as $1,848.20.

The TTD rate will go up as of July 15, 2023, so if you are reading this and were injured after that date, your maximum rate will be higher.

Below is a look at the rates over the last few years. This information can be confusing. If you have any questions or want to speak with an experienced Illinois work comp attorney for free, please contact us any time at 312-346-5578. We help everywhere in Illinois.

7/15/18
through
1/14/19
1/15/19
through
7/14/19
​​7/15/19
through
1/14/20
1/15/20
through
7/14/20
7/15/20
through
1/14/21
1/15/21
through
7/14/21
7/15/21
through
1/14/22
​1/15/22
through
7/14/22
​7/15/22
through
1/14/23
1/15/23
through
7/14/23​
Statewide Average
Weekly Wage (SAWW)
​$1,110.09 ​$1,130.11 ​$1,147​.38 ​$1,161.80 ​$1,179.01 ​$1,210.45 ​$1,270.32 ​$1,301.12 ​$1,344.55 ​$1386.15

Disability

Death, Permanent Total Disability, or Permanent Partial Disability if amputation of a member or enucleation of an eye

Recipients of death and PTD benefits may be entitled to cost-of-living adjustments through the Rate Adjustment Fund. Death benefits are paid for 25 years or $500,000, whichever is greater.

7/15/18
through
1/14/19
1/15/19
through
7/14/19
​​7/15/19
through
1/14/20
1/15/20
through
7/14/20
​​7/15/20
through
1/14/21
1/15/21
through
7/14/21
​7/15/21
through
1/14/22
1/15/22
through
7/14/22
​7/15/22
through 
1/14/23
​1/15/23
through
7/14/23
MAXIMUM ​​$1,480.12 ​$1,506.81 ​$1,529.84 $1,549.07​ ​$1,572.01 ​$1,613.93 ​$1,693.76 ​$1,734.83 ​$1,792.73 ​$1,848.20
MINIMUM ​​$555.05 ​$565.06 $573.69 $580.90 ​$589.51 $605.23 ​$635.16 ​$650.56 ​$  672.28 ​$  693.08

TEMPORARY TOTAL DISABILITY

​7/15/18
through
1/14/19
​1/15/19
through
7/14/19
​7/15/19
through
1/14/20
1/15/20
through
7/14/20
7/15/20
through
1/14/21
1/15/21
through
7/14/21
​7/15/21
through
1/14/22
1/15/22
through
7/14/22
​7/15/22
through
1/14/23
​1/15/23
through
7/14/23
MAXIMUM $1,480.12 ​$1,506.81 ​$1,529.84 $1,549.07​ ​$1,572.01 ​$1,613.93 ​$1,693.76 ​$1,734.83 ​$1,792.73 ​$1,848.20

MINIMUM
The minimum is the employee’s average weekly wage or the rate below, whichever is lower.
Number of children and/or spouse: ​

7/15/18
through
1/14/19
1/15/19
through
7/14/19
7/15/19
through
1/14/20
1/15/20
through
7/14/20
7/15/20
through
1/14/21
1/15/21
through
7/14/21
​7/15/21
through
1/14/22
1/15/22
through
7/14/22
​7/15/22
through
1/14/23
​1/15/23
through
7/14/23
0 $220.00 ​$220.00 ​$220.00 $246.67​ ​$266.67 ​$293.33 ​$293.33 ​$320.00 ​$320.00 ​$346.67
1 ​$253.00 ​$253.00 ​$253.00 $283.67 ​$306.67 $337.33 ​$337.33 ​$368.00 ​$368.00 ​$403.88
2 ​$286.00 ​$286.00 ​$286.00 $320.67​ ​$346.67 ​$381.33 ​$381.33 ​$416.00 ​​$416.00 ​$456.04
3 ​$319.00 ​$319.00 ​$319.00 $357.67 ​$386.67 ​$425.33 ​$425.33 ​$464.00 ​$464.00 ​$508.04
4+ ​$330.00 ​$330.00 ​$330.00 $370.00​ ​$400.00 ​$440.00 ​$440.00 ​$480.00 ​$480.00 ​$520.00

New TTD minimums take effect with increases in the minimum wage each July 1, but appear in the July 15 rate. The Illinois minimum wage increased to $13.00 on January 1, 2023.

PERMANENT PARTIAL DISABILITY IF NOT AMPUTATION OF A MEMBER OR ENUCLEATION OF AN EYE *The change in PPD disability maximum amount is derived by comparing the current FY SAWW rate with the prior FY SAWW rate. PPD rates are updated annually on or about January 15

Effective 2/1/06, the maximum 8(d)1 (wage differential) award is equal to the SAWW, and the minimums are the same as the TTD minimums.

7/1/11
through
6/30/12
7/1/12
through
6/30/13
7/1/13
through
6/30/14
7/1/14
through
6/30/15
7/1/15
through
6/30/16
7/1/16
through
6/30/17
​7/1/17
through
6/30/18
7/1/18
through
6/30/19
7/1/19
through
6/30/20
7/1/20
through
6/30/21
​7/1/21
through
6/30/22
7/1/22
through
6/30/23​
MAXIMUM $695.78 $712.55 $721.66 $735.37 $755.22 $775.18 $790.64 $813.87 $836.69 ​$871.73 $937.11 $998.02​

MINIMUM The PPD minimum rate is the same as the TTD minimum rate (see above).

Why Isn’t My Illinois Work Comp Case Settled Yet?

A caller to my office was incredibly frustrated with his case. Here’s what he had to say. Note that he’s not a client of ours.

I was hurt six years ago and my work comp case isn’t settled. Is it because I work in Chicago? None of it makes sense to me.

We talked to him further and it turns out that he had a major injury that required multiple surgeries and almost three years missed from work. He’s back to a new job within the company, but just stopped treating with his doctor a little more than six months before he called me. So while his case could be settled by now, it’s not insane that it isn’t. It’s possible that his lawyer is lazy, but it’s also possible that they are working out some Medicare issues and making sure he can tolerate work. It’s also possible that the settlement demand is so large that it’s taking longer to resolve because multiple people have to approve it.

In the big picture for you though, remember that every case is different. If it’s been six years and your case hasn’t settled that would be unusual. Here is an incomplete list of why some cases take so long to settle:

  • You have a major injury and haven’t finished your treatment. That means the case isn’t ready to settle.
  • The case is disputed and needs to go to trial so depositions of the doctors need to be taken. Only when it’s ready for trial will the insurance company make their best offer.
  • The insurance company went bankrupt and now the case is being handled by the Illinois Insurance Guarantee Fund. When that happens it will often add years to a case.
  • You hired a terrible attorney. When I first started practicing law 25 years ago, one lawyer who boasted of having gone to Harvard seemed to never settle his cases. It makes no sense as the lawyer doesn’t get paid until the client does and his cases were ready to settle. But some attorneys are just lazy or incompetent or overwhelmed and do a bad job.
  • The insurance company won’t offer a fair amount. There is no requirement that they give you a settlement offer and sometimes they won’t for strategic reasons. In that case you have to go to trial. Some lawyers don’t see what is really happening and you end up waiting around.
  • Issues such as a Medicare set aside need to be worked out still.
  • You haven’t found a job within your restrictions yet. If you settled now it would potentially be for much less than you could get.
  • You had a second work related injury and even though the first one is healed, the insurance company wants to wait and settle them both at the same time.
  • The insurance adjuster who was handling your case left the company and whoever took over their files is behind.

Whatever the reason, if your case is truly ready to settle and you either haven’t gotten a settlement offer or don’t like the one you got, there is only one solution. Your lawyer has to get the case ready for trial. That means taking doctor depositions, securing your medical records and bills by subpoena and arranging for witnesses if any are needed. After that it’s just a simple trial motion and you should have your day in court. Being ready for trial will force their best offer if there is going to be one and if there’s no offer, a trial victory is the only way to get paid.

Sadly, some work comp attorneys in Illinois are settlement only and don’t go to trial very often if at all. If that’s what you have, you have the wrong lawyer. If there isn’t a significant settlement offer already, you can likely get a new, better firm. If you’d like to discuss your case, you can contact us for free and in confidence any time at 312-346-5578. We have a state wide network of attorneys so we help everywhere in Illinois.

We’ve Helped Recover Over $1 Billion. That’s Not Impressive

I’m not a salesy guy. I hate bullshit. I’m terrible at having fake conversations with people at parties. I like directness and honesty.

Attorneys are business people so we do have to market ourselves. This blog is marketing as well as information for the public. What I don’t do is try to manipulate people or create false hope.

Recently I saw a commercial for a law firm that had splashed on there that they had recovered over $1 Billion Dollars for their clients. If you didn’t know any better, that would sound impressive. It’s not. The reality is that I’ve done that and so have many other good and bad law firms in Illinois.

In the fine print of the commercial was a barely readable note that clarified what the one billion dollars were. In that, they included getting payments for medical bills and being off work. These payments include those made voluntarily by the insurance companies as a regular part of the case. So imagine that you hire me or any other lawyer and get a back surgery that costs $150,000.00. The bills get submitted to the insurance company and they pay them. Did I really recover that for you? Of course not. My presence might have helped, and it’s a security blanket to make the case go smoother, but nothing was recovered.

On average, I help around 1,000 people a year get the best attorney possible for their Illinois work comp case. Over 25 years that would average out to only $40,000 a case. Most claims we get involved with have medical bills alone that exceed that amount. So if I was a really scummy lawyer, I could probably say I’ve helped people recover over three or four billion dollars.

The lawyers who make these kinds of claims are usually up to marketing nonsense. It’s designed to make people who don’t know any better and shouldn’t know any better think that a law firm is something that they are not. It doesn’t mean they are good lawyers or bad lawyers. It just means they’ve been handling cases for a while. It’s not impressive to say you’ve recovered over a billion dollars. It’s just misleading. It also gives no indication as to if they do a good job or not. If I get you a $250,000 settlement when the insurance company would have offered $400,000, that’s not a good job. But of course, you’d have no way to know that.

The bottom line is that whether it’s finding an attorney through us or any other way, don’t just go off what you read or what looks good. Actually interview the attorney, discuss your case, ask questions and make an educated decision about who to go with.

Illinois Work Comp, If I Have Two Surgeries Is My Case Worth More?

By far the most common questions about Illinois work comp law that we get have to do with what a case is worth.  Here’s an interesting one we received recently that really needs an explanation:

I just need to know if a 2 surgery settlement is more than a 1 surgery settlement. I’m getting 2 different answers from work comp.

Generally speaking, we find that the more medical care you have, the more your case is worth. The more treatment you need is an indication as to how serious the injury is. If you strain your back and have two weeks of physical therapy, your case is probably worth less than someone who has a back strain, but needs eight weeks of physical therapy before they feel better.

The dollar difference with that example wouldn’t be much. But if you have multiple back surgeries, it’s probable that your case is worth more than it would be if you only had one surgery. How much the difference is depends on a lot of things. Note it will never be worth enough to have an additional surgery just because you think it will put more dollars in your pocket in the end. We always recommend you make educated decisions after talking to your doctor.

All that said, having more surgeries doesn’t necessarily mean your case is worth more. Under Illinois work comp law, you can’t be made to have a surgery if you don’t want it. So we’ve seen cases where someone has a back surgery and is left with pain and permanent lifting restrictions. There doctor says an additional surgery could make them better and able to work without restrictions. In most cases if you have restrictions, the case will be worth more than it would be if you have no restrictions. And if your job can’t accommodate those restrictions, your case could be worth significantly more even though you had less treatment.

The bottom line is that every case is different. Don’t make medical decisions because you think it will get you a larger settlement. We’ve seen that strategy blow up for so many people. The end result of what a case is worth has so many factors. Medical treatment you’ve received is just one factor. Your age, wages, the job you return to, your job history, need for future medical care, etc. all are a factor too. So do what is best for your health without consideration to any settlement you will get.

And as always, if you have any questions you can contact us any time.

Can Work Comp Stop Paying Without Notice In Illinois?

We are Illinois work injury attorneys. You can contact us any time to speak with a lawyer for free and in confidence. Call us at 312-346-5578. We cover all of Illinois.

I have the pleasure of talking to 5-10 people a day who have Illinois work comp questions. A recent caller asked a really good question. She had been receiving work comp benefits for over six months due to a serious leg injury. There was no dispute that she hurt herself at work. The accident was witnessed and she received treatment right away. All of her medical bills have been paid including for a surgery. All of her time off work was paid up until about a month before she called me.

What happened next is the work comp insurance just stopped paying. She’s still treating with her doctor. Her doctor still has her off work. The TTD checks just stopped coming and the insurance adjuster hasn’t called her back. She wanted to know if this was legal.

The short answer is that an insurance company can’t just stop paying you if you are authorized off of work unless they have good cause. What would be good cause? Here are some examples:

  • The send you to an independent medical exam (IME) and their hired gun doctor says you can return to work or your accident wasn’t work related.
  • They discover new facts about the accident that bring in to question whether or not they should have approved it in the first place. For example, somebody comes forward and tells them you really got hurt at home.
  • Surveillance is conducted on you by the insurance company and that video indicates you are faking your injury.
  • Your doctor says you can return to work even though you don’t feel you can.
  • Your employer has work for you within your medical restrictions.

None of those things happened in this case. She has a few months more to go before her doctor thinks she will be released to return to work. So why is this happening and what can be done about it?

I suspect it’s one of two things. Either the adjuster is playing games and hoping to frustrate this nice woman into going back to work too soon. Or the adjuster quit/was fired and nobody has taken over their files. Insurance companies aren’t always organized and their priority is never making sure that people who should get paid do get paid.

The way we can solve the problem is to make calls to other people at the insurance company that our lawyers have had cases against and see what is really going on. Sometimes those simple phone calls can make things better. If they are just messing with her, they wouldn’t have likely done so if she was represented. The other option is to file a 19(b) petition for immediate hearing at the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission along with a petition for penalties. This will force them to respond for their actions and potentially punishing them for acting in bad faith.

So the good news is that she has a likely very solvable problem. It’s frustrating that she needs to deal with this nonsense, but at least the law is on her side and the problem likely can be solved in short order.

Hired Out Of A Union Hall In Illinois? That Might Be Enough To Make A Case

Illinois is a great and fair state for injured workers. We are surrounded by Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Iowa and Wisconsin. All of those states have worse benefits for workers than we do. Indiana is especially bad.

The reality is that a lot of Illinois residents will take jobs in other states. And people from those states will come to work here. A lot of people think that your work comp case has to be brought in the state where you are hurt. That’s not true. To bring a case in Illinois you need to show one of three things:

  1. You were hurt in Illinois; or
  2. You primarily work out of Illinois;
  3. The last act to hire you took place in Illinois.

It’s the third one that I want to talk about because it’s the least known. In plain English it means they offered you the job and you were physically in Illinois when they did so and you didn’t need to do anything else.

For example, if you are a truck driver who lives in Joliet and get offered a job to drive for a New Jersey company over the phone, if you start working without doing anything else, you can bring your case in Illinois if you get hurt. On the other hand, if they make you travel out of state for a physical that has to be passed before you start working, you’d be out of luck.

This is common for truck drivers and union workers although it applies to everyone. In a case we investigated recently, a union worker out of Illinois sustained a significant back injury after working a few months on the job in another state. It’s a state that caps the amount of time you can be off of work and really hurts employees like him with serious injuries. Fortunately, he was hired directly out of his union hall. The company contacted the union asking for a certain amount of workers who had the skills he possessed.  There was a Zoom call and he and some others were offered the job.

He literally went to the other state and began working the first day. He filled out some paperwork when he was there, but none of it was required in order to determine if he could be hired. “You’ve got the job” was said to him while he was in Illinois.

The insurance company is of course trying to make him take benefits from the crappy state. He doesn’t have to take that nonsense. A case like this will probably require a trial, but since it’s a one issue case, the trial will likely be very quick and probably won’t even require testimony from a doctor. Nobody is disputing he’s hurt, it’s just a question of can he bring his case in Illinois. To me it’s a clear yes.

The bottom line is that you don’t have to be hurt in Illinois to bring a case here. If you want a free, confidential consultation to see your options, we are happy to talk to you any time.

A New, Terrible Defense To Illinois Work Comp Claims

I’m now in my 26th year of being an Illinois workers’ compensation attorney. I haven’t “seen it all” because everyday insurance companies come up with new ways to try to wrongly deny injured workers of benefits they are entitled to. And technology and unforeseen things events like Covid will continue to change how the Illinois Workers’ Compensation system works. The key is to be prepared and willing to adapt. If your lawyer is afraid of technology, they will likely struggle.

Illinois workers comp lawyers kind of play a game of whack-a-mole when it comes to advocating for injured workers. You beat back one ridiculous defense to a case that happens over and over and a new one pops up. The latest I’ve seen happened in a case against an Illinois transportation company. A truck driver hurt his shoulder while moving a pallet that had shifted during a ride. Doing so caused him to completely tear his rotator cuff.

Does the accident I described to you sound straightforward? It should and benefits should have been immediately paid. They weren’t and this poor worker had to go to trial. It turns out that when he applied for the job, he failed to disclose a prior injury to that shoulder more than ten years ago. He also didn’t disclose a left arm injury from 1993 and an ankle injury from 2015.

As a result, the employer, through their insurance company, argued that since he wasn’t honest during the interview process, he must have lied about how he got hurt at work. That whole line of thinking is absurd. Their defense is basically, “you lied once, so you don’t have the right to ever bring a workers comp case.”

Now mind you, there is literally no other defense to this case. There are no witnesses or medical experts who dispute how he got hurt. He went to the doctor in a timely fashion, reported the accident right away to his boss, and gave a consistent history of how he got hurt to all of his medical providers.

The good news is that when this case went to trial, the Arbitrator slapped this dumb defense down. He gave no weight to the failure to disclose prior injuries. That is clearly the right finding as this case is only about was the worker hurt when he said and how he said it happened. So all back pay, back medical, and prospective medical were ordered. The insurance company didn’t stop there though. They appealed to the Commission. They lost that appeal in a unanimous decision.

The lesson from this case is that insurance companies are always looking for a reason to fight your case. Even if they accept your case at first, you should know that if they get any reason to fight you, they will. They aren’t “doing right” by you or looking out for you. And in some cases, they will grasp at the thinnest straw to try and hurt you.

 

Why Are You Waiting So Long For The IME Report?

Although Illinois workers compensation laws are generally worker friendly, the employer and their insurance company do have rights that protect them too. They are allowed to contest a claim for good cause such as a failure by the injured worker to notify them of an accident within a timely basis. Another right that they have is to schedule you for an independent medical examination or IME.

An IME is a one time (typically) exam by a medical doctor of the insurance company’s choosing. When you normally see a doctor, they have an ethical duty to you because you are their patient. With an IME, you will undergo a medical exam, but you aren’t a patient. In other words, that doctor doesn’t owe you any duty. They are paid for by the insurance company and often make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year from doing these exams.

What is crazy is that quite often, this “exam” will last less than five minutes. While the doctors have access to your medical records too and that can influence their report, it’s shocking how many injured workers report that the IME asked almost no questions and barely looked at them.

After their exam, the IME doctor will typically issue a report that tells the insurance company what their findings are and answer specific questions the insurance company wants answered. Those questions can include:

  • What is your injury?
  • Is it work related?
  • Do you need the surgery the treating doctor is recommending?
  • Do you have the ability to work now?

I’ve seen reports generated the same day of the exam.  That’s not uncommon when you have a doctor who is doing hundreds of these exams a year. Typically their nurse or someone else prepares the meat of the report. Even when that doesn’t happen, the insurance company wants to get value for their money so you’ll find the report is prepared with in a week or two at most.

While they are waiting for the report, the insurance company might (often illegally) keep your case in limbo. They’ll say that they can’t approve a surgery until they hear what their chosen doctor has to say.  They’ll tell you that they will send you a copy of the findings when they are available.

Days and weeks will go by and you’ll hear nothing. Why does this happen?

The most common reason you don’t get a copy of the report is because the company doctor agreed with your treating doctor. That is evidence that can be used against them, so they don’t want to give it to you. And believe it or not, there is no requirement that they do so. What they can’t do is know that they have no defense and continue to delay or deny your claim.  But of course that happens. We can try to subpoena the report, but that isn’t always successful.

The other reason you might not get a copy is because a report doesn’t exist. While these doctors typically find in favor of the insurance company, they don’t do that 100% of the time. And since they want to keep their insurance company client happy, they’ll call them, tell them what the report would say and then agree to not put their opinions in writing.

It’s shameful because this isn’t about them finding out the truth, it’s about them trying to screw you over. The good news is that under Illinois law, if an IME happens and no report is presented, it’s assumed by the Arbitrators who decide your case that the report would be in your favor. In other words, even if there’s no report it can help you win your case.

Generally speaking, if it takes more than two weeks to hear back, I’d be suspicious.  That’s the time to get a lawyer if you haven’t already. We can file a motion for immediate trial hearing which will force their hand and hopefully get your case on track. If you’d like our help with this, call us at 888-705-1766 any time. We help everywhere in Illinois.

Intersection Syndrome And Illinois Workers Compensation

Intersection Syndrome is a type of wrist tendonitis that is common in Illinois workers’ compensation claims. It is a condition in which the tendons over the back of the forearm and wrist become inflamed. We see this injury all the time in people on assembly lines who have had their pace of their work sped up. We have also helped injured factory and warehouse workers who have had the weight of the items that they handle increased significantly. It’s plainly a common injury for people who use their hands a lot on the job.

Causes

Activities that require the wrist to repeatedly move downward toward the thumb can lead to Intersection Syndrome. Irritation and swelling result from this motion that causes the muscles and tendons in the wrist to rub against one another. The tendons cannot glide easily as the inflammation progresses. In plain English, if you are using your hands in a repetitive nature, you are at risk for a variety of arm and wrist injuries including Intersection Syndrome.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

The most common symptom of Intersection Syndrome is pain to the wrist or forearm that is aggravated by flexing or extending it. Tenderness or swelling in the forearm at the intersection point may also be present. Occasionally, people experience squeaking or creaking when moving the affected wrist.  While you can confirm you have this problem via a MRI, that is expensive and doesn’t often happen. There is a simple, in office test called a Finklestein’s exam that will give an initial diagnosis from your doctor. That opinion is usually confirmed by a quick ultrasound.

Treatment

Treatment for intersection syndrome may include:

Rest: Fully rest the tendons for a period of time and use a wrist brace. Avoid activities that aggravate the symptoms.
Ice: Ice can help relieve the inflammation as the source of the pain is close to the skin, not deep in the body.
Medication: A short course of anti-inflammatory medication can reduce symptoms.
Cortisone injection: A more aggressive treatment like a cortisone shot may be recommended if the condition persists.
Surgery: In rare cases, a surgical clean-up of the tendons may be performed. Abnormally tight tissue called fascia can be released from around the tendons to prevent the condition from coming back.

Most people make a complete recovery from Intersection syndrome, but that is not always the case of course. It’s possible your doctor will give you permanent restrictions so you avoid re-injury.The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act protects you in that situation.

You may be an Amazon employee who has had felt the effects of lifting heavier packages. You may be an assembly line employee who has been expected to move your hands faster. No matter your situation with Intersection Syndrome, call us so that we can point you in the right direction and help you get the compensation you deserve. If you would like to talk to an experienced Illinois work comp attorney for free about your injury, please call us any time at 312-346-5578. We help with cases everywhere in Illinois.

Finally An Illinois Employer Gets Punished For Not Having Work Comp Insurance

One belief I have as a lawyer and as a human being is that if you are going to have laws on the books, enforce them. If they don’t make sense to be enforced, repeal them. That doesn’t mean that if someone is going five miles over the speed limit they should get a ticket. What it does mean is that when someone is willfully committing a crime, there should either be charges or take the law away.

While most Illinois businesses do carry work comp insurance, some don’t. It’s a class 4 felony to not have work comp insurance if you do business in Illinois, assuming you have any employees. Some “smart” bosses try to get around this by calling everyone independent contractors when they are not. That doesn’t usually work. Others just roll the dice and don’t carry insurance, hoping nobody will get hurt. These people are immoral as they knowingly put the welfare of their workers at risk.

Sadly, while a lot of employers have been caught over the years flouting this law, very few have been significantly punished. That might be changing

In what is a really positive sign, the Illinois State Department of Insurance brought a case against an employer that blatantly ignored the law. The employer was working in the labor field, helping with the installation of sheeting on buildings. That’s clearly a job where injuries are likely to happen. The Insurance Compliance Division of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission categorized this business as ultra-hazardous.

The State got a tip that they didn’t have insurance and contacted them. What’s amazing about Illinois is that they don’t go in aggressively, but instead give you a chance to correct your error and not get charged. I can’t imagine any other felony where this would happen, but the goal is to have businesses comply with the law, not arrest people.

In this case, the business reportedly talked to the investigator at first and then ignored further contact.  As a result, civil charges were brought and the business was fined for every day it went without insurance. In this case that as a $500 fine every day for 357 days as well as a penalty of $32.82 a day for unpaid premiums. All told, the total fine came in at over $190,000.00! The State also dissolved the business and appears to be going after the owner individually.  A big factor in all of this was that they didn’t find any evidence he couldn’t afford to pay for the insurance, but rather he just chose not to have it.

What I still haven’t seen is anyone get criminally charged with a felony and do some jail time. Generally speaking, I think we need to jail fewer people in this country (we have the highest incarceration rate in the world) not more, but I also think there would be some value in punishing white-collar criminals like these, even if it’s a 30-day jail period. I’d think it would have a deterrent effect on other companies or individuals who might want to flout the law. Sadly, I think politicians are too worried about backlash. So while I’m happy the financial part of this law was enforced, I wish they’d do it more and consider taking it further.

LexBlog