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Could changes be in store for Illinois workers' compensation?

At least two pieces of proposed legislation have recently been introduced in the Illinois legislature that would affect workers' compensation if they are passed. These proposals come on the heels of last year's reforms which created physician networks for workers' compensation.

One of the new bills was presented to the state House of Representatives late last month. The proposal would deduct prior, partial disability amounts from benefits to be paid to injured workers. This change would apply for subsequent injuries to a person if the injuries occur in the same part of the body as the first injury. This change, if passed, would alter calculations of benefits for those who have previous injuries.

In another proposed bill being considered by the Senate, idiopathic injuries, conditions with an unknown cause, would not be included in workers' compensation benefits. The legislation, if enacted, would also require employees to seek treatment from a physician included in their employer's preferred provider program. Currently, the employee has the option to opt-out of the employer program.

The proposal in the Senate also would include new definitions for some injuries. Additionally, it proposes stricter definitions concerning the cause of a claimed injury, including language requiring that the injury be established to a reasonable degree of medical certainty.

Those working in Illinois may be interested in watching what happens with these legislative proposals. Changes in the state's workers' compensation programs could potentially negatively affect many workers. Anyone who has been injured on the job would benefit from reviewing, the proposals and any subsequent laws, perhaps with the assistance of a professional, as they confront the rules and guidelines in applying for workers' compensation benefits.

Source: Business Insurance, "Illinois workers compensation bill could change awards for previously injured employees," Sheena Harrison, April 3, 2012

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Hannigan & Botha, Ltd.
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