Workers’ Compensation Reform in Illinois

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In 2011 we saw the most significant reforms to Illinois’ workers’ compensation laws since 1975. These reforms were the result of tense negotiations with a variety of interests, and while there were many reasons for the changes, the main motivating factors were to help save money for both private and state employers. The bulk of the savings are planned to come from a 30% reduction in fees paid to doctors for the treatment of injured employees.

The recent changes to Illinois’ workers’ compensation law were extensive, but below we highlight some of the most significant reforms:

  • Use of AMA Guidelines – Under the new law, AMA (American Medical Association) guidelines must be a factor in determining workers’ compensation benefits, but not necessarily the primary factor. Reduced values for injuries under new AMA guidelines could put you at risk for receiving lower compensation amounts than you deserve. It is important that you have an attorney experienced in workers’ compensation cases who can help mitigate the impact of an AMA report that indicates low disability in order to ensure you are awarded fair compensation. You should also be wary of insurance companies making offers based solely off of AMA guidelines, as they may be far lower than you are entitled to.
  • Limited Recovery for Hand Injuries – The number of weeks of compensation for a repetitive trauma hand injury has been reduced from a maximum of 205 weeks to 190 weeks. Carpal tunnel permanence has also been capped at 15% of the loss of use of a hand, with an exception for when there is clear, convincing evidence of further disability — in this case, the cap is set at 30% of the loss of use of the hand.
  • Limitation of Wage Differential – If you end up being forced to take a lower-paying job as a result of your injury, you’ll be entitled to a wage loss differential either until age 67 or five years from the date of a final award, whichever is longer. Prior to the amendment of the act, you were entitled to collect wage differential benefits for your entire life.

 

Contact Rubens and Kress to Learn More

There are many other changes detailed in the 2011 reforms to Illinois’ workers’ compensation, and if the time has come to initiate a claim, you should have attorneys familiar with these reforms on your side. To learn more, or to explore your legal options, contact Rubens and Kress online or at (312) 201-9640. You can also reach our office toll-free at 1-866-890-9640. There is no fee for our services unless you collect, so you can have confidence that the team at Rubens and Kress will do everything we can to ensure you receive the compensation to which you are entitled.