When a worker is hurt on the job in Illinois, laws associated with workers' compensation are in place to provide necessary medical care and financial support during the recovery. These laws were originally implemented to protect workers as well as their employers. Workers' compensation is a “no-fault” type system designed to prevent potential disputes between employers and injured workers. The Illinois Senate has recently passed some legislation that seeks to place some new restrictions and requirements on insurers that write these policies. Last year, Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed a very similar bill. This year's bill passed 34-21 and was largely supported by Senator Kwame Raoul.
Senator Raoul stated that they do not wish to participate in what he describes as a “race to the bottom, when it comes to workers' compensation rights.” He cited some successfully implemented reforms in recent years; however, the insurance providers are alleged to have insufficiently passed cost savings on to employees and employers. This bill includes key requirements such as that claims are exclusively filed electronically, enhancements are made to the prescription drug formulary, and it alters the manner that rates are established by the state's Department of Insurance.
Meanwhile, Republican legislators find that the state's workers' compensation system has a track-record of hindering financial growth. Democrats insist that the key is a reduction in premium costs. In the past, Raoul has worked with manufacturers in efforts to reform the system with moderate levels of success. An estimated $315 million in premiums are believed to have been saved since 2011. This proposed legislation empowers the Department of Insurance to better see to it that employers recognize cost savings.
The bill also contains some key provisions.
- It explains that an impairment report from the American Medical Association is not a requirement, but may be a tool for reaching decisions regarding benefit awards and settlements.
- It creates potential penalties for employers or insurance providers when unreasonable delays occur in accessing medical care.
- It simplifies the classification system to have injuries involving the hip and shoulder included with those to the leg and arm.
Governor Rauner has suggested that this bill is “not real” reform, but hopes that bipartisan progress can be made among the legislature. Reformers want to see improvements in work injury benefits and improved guidelines that determine disabilities. Some of the contents of the bill were supported by the Governor, such as improving the management of prescription drug spending and simplification of guidelines.
The state requires employers to provide workers' compensation for their employees. Workers' compensation is fundamentally a “no-fault” system. While it protects employers from potential lawsuits from employees, it also gives employees the benefit of having coverage for medical costs and income when they are unable to work. As with most ongoing programs, sometimes problems do arise. Interacting with the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission is often confusing for workers and claims may be denied for a variety of reasons.
The types of accidents that are subject to workers compensation may vary based on the type of work being performed and the environment, and may be temporary or permanent. Some of the different classifications of benefits used in the system include:
- Temporary total disability (TTD)
- Temporary partial disability (TPD)
- Permanent partial disability (PPD)
- Permanent total disability (PTD)
An employee may potentially be hesitant to report a workplace injury for various reasons. They may realize that they violated an established procedure that led to the injury and fear disciplinary consequences. The law protects employees in these cases from any types of discrimination. When an injury is reported, it is to be handled by the insurance provider that provides the workers' compensation plan.
Many injuries that are work-related can have potentially serious consequences. You may be experiencing tremendous pain, unable to complete routine daily tasks, be losing much needed wages, and incurring sizable medical costs. The legal team at Benassi & Benassi P.C. believes that employees should have a work environment the meets applicable standards for safety and should receive rightful compensation in the event of an injury. If you have been denied coverage, help is available--contact our office in Peoria today at (309) 674-3556.