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Illinois carves out new workers' compensation law

If you injure or kill someone by way of recklessness or drunk driving while on the job in Illinois, don't expect to receive workers' compensation for any injuries you sustain. That is the gist of a new bill signed into law earlier this month by Governor Pat Quinn. In brief, if a person who is eligible for workers' compensation is found guilty of a felony including reckless homicide or causing injuries, or of aggravated drunk driving, that person is disqualified from receiving workers' comp and even from recovering attorney's fees.

This law's origin was due to a tragic accident that occurred in 2007. A police officer, who was responding to an accident, caused a fatal accident when he collided head-on with a passenger car. Both occupants of the car, two teenage sisters, died. The officer was injured.

However, it turned out that the police officer had been talking on his cellphone and receiving texts while he drove at speeds in excess of 120 miles per hour.

After the terrible accident, much controversy welled up. It ended with two Illinois state legislators, Democratic Senator Bill Haine and Republican Representative Dwight Kay, crossing party lines and stepping into the fray to author the legislation the governor signed.

Whether or not the police officer who was responsible for the death of the two sisters will receive workers' compensation is a matter that is still being played out in the courts as the legislation is not retroactive.

The new law, though undeniably rooted in the best of motives, opens a can of worms. What happens if someone is found guilty of causing reckless injury and, as a result, is disqualified from receiving workers' compensation for the injuries they sustained but is then vindicated in an appeal?

This is where lawyers come in. Though lawyers fight on your behalf in court, that's not all they do - lawyers can help you solve your problems before they snowball out of control. If you feel that you may unfairly be denied workers' compensation in Illinois, a lawyer can advise you about your rights, arbitrate on your behalf or go to bat for you in court.

Source: The BND, "Quinn signs workers' comp bill prompted by Mitchell crash," George Pawlaczyk, Aug. 9, 2011

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ITLA WCLA Illinois State Bar Association
Super Lawyers ABA- American Bar Association The Chicago Bar Association Founded 1874
 Workers' Compensation Lawyers Association Lake County Bar Association Recommended By Peers For Leading Lawyers Network