With the Coronavirus, most courts are closed. This includes, for the most part, the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. By that I mean that regular status calls are not happening. Trials where an Arbitrator determines what a case is worth aren’t happening right now. Pre-trials aren’t happening either.
I’ve heard from some readers that they need a surgery that has been unreasonably declined by an insurance company and that their lawyer says nothing can be done for them right now. In some cases that may be true, but in others it might be that your attorney just doesn’t want to do anything.
The IL Work Comp Commission is in fact open for emergencies. Three days a week in Chicago and twice a week for the rest of the State, emergency motions can be presented to Arbitrators between 9 a.m. and noon. Emergencies include issues related to the statute of limitations or if a worker will suffer an unacceptable hardship if they do not get a hearing. Basically you have to make an argument that the risk of someone being exposed to COVID-19 is worth it.
This was just announced and it’s not clear if this means all 19(b) emergency petitions will be heard or if you have to go a step further in order to get a hearing. But what you can do is try. File the motion and make the insurance company respond to it. If healthy, your lawyer can show up at the Commission where social distancing measures have been put in place for their safety. They can argue that you are in an emergency situation whether it’s because you’ve been without pay for a long period of time or desperately need a surgery or other medical procedure.
These are very strange times of course and the situation might change. As of now the Commission is closed through March. I doubt it will fully open in April, but nobody knows for certain. Trial motions have to be filed at least 15 days in advance so your attorney should be filing their motions now in case things do somehow go back to normal or a contingency plan is put in to place like hearings by Zoom or some other procedure. It takes very little effort to file the right paperwork.
But if your attorney won’t try anything, they aren’t fighting for you and may in fact be lying to you. Is advocating for a client a lot harder now than it was last month? Absolutely. Is it impossible? No and since we can’t predict the future, we need to try.