Workers’ Compensation Claims Decline in Illinois Valley

According to a recent NewsTribune analysis, workers’ compensation claims in the Illinois Valley have fallen by 20 percent in the past two years.

The regional decline of workers’ compensation cases is steeper than that in the state as a whole, with a 32 percent decrease in cases filed in 2011 compared with a decade ago. The main factor for the decline is the high unemployment rate due to recession.

However, some observers believe that legitimate claims are not being reported because workers are afraid to file for fear of losing their jobs in a down economy. It is further claimed that employers are taking advantage of this fear by discouraging workers from filing, and then, if the injury worsens, attempting to claim that the injury is therefore unrelated to work.

The Illinois Workers’ Comp System

For those not familiar with the topic, workers’ compensation is a no-fault system where benefits are paid to employees for workplace accidents that are caused, in part or whole, by their work. Almost all employees are covered by workers’ compensation, and employers pay for the claims via insurance policies.

If the case is not settled between the employee and the employer, an arbitrator will hear the case. The arbitrator’s decision may be appealed to a civil district court, as well as the Illinois Appellate and Supreme courts.

However, while the appeal is pending-which can often take years-an employee who is severely and permanently injured cannot receive the benefits awarded by the arbitrator. One recent example involves an Illinois Valley man who recently won a workers’ compensation judgment against Wal-Mart. However, Wal-Mart has appealed the judgment and he must wait to receive his benefits until the appeals process is finalized.

Seeking the help of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who understands the law and procedures is vital.

Source: newstrib.com, Works comp cases fall, Tom Collins, Aug 27, 2012

Grazian & Volpe, Part of the Lloyd Miller Law Group