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Workers' compensation claimants may face trouble in Illinois

Controversy over disability cases filed for employees at an Illinois correctional center could lead to a review of the workers' compensation system within the state. According to recent investigations, a partial permanent disability (PPD) award was granted in nearly all of the 140 workers' compensation cases filed by employees of the facility.

In several of the cases, "repetitive trauma" resulted in diagnoses such as carpal tunnel or cubital tunnel syndrome for many of the claimants. The majority of the workers were eventually medically cleared to return to work without restrictions.

It is possible that in the future, workers could be faced with difficulty in receiving disability payments for permanent yet non-debilitating injuries that were received on the job.

Employee advocates argue that some of the injuries sustained, while manageable after treatment, will never completely go away. They also argue that, while surgery may improve the physical function of the employees, the ability to live life pain free becomes limited.

However, a spokesperson for the Illinois Attorney General indicated that if an employee is capable of returning to work free of restrictions a PPD award should not be granted.

According to Illinois law, claimants in workers' compensation cases who are in search of permanency in their partial disability payments are required to testify in court that they experience pain or discomfort regularly in order to receive a payment from the Illinois general revenue fund. A statement from a physician is not required.

Given the varying opinions between employer and employee advocates in this case, it is very possible that other Illinois employees could begin to face difficulty when filing for disability in association with workers' compensation.

Remember, employees who are injured while on the job are entitled to workers' compensation within the parameters of the law. Some employees find that they benefit from advice by knowledgeable legal advocates throughout the claim process.

Source: The Belleville News Democrat, "Menard workers still get disability even though doctors clear them to return to work," George Pawlaczyk and Beth Hundsdorfer, 02 July 2011

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