Workers’ Compensation: Highlights of 2011 Rewrite

Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act: Your Personal Injury Lawyers at Grazian and Volpe have been blogging extensively about the 2011 rewrite of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. The outcome of such broad changes in law are difficult to predict and it will be up to lawyers, IWCC arbitrators and commissioners and up the chain of judges to determine the actual application of the changes. Of course, that will be a long and arduous process and lawyers and their clients need ready for battle.

However, as experienced workers’ compensation attorneys, we at Grazian and Volpe are focused on the most important changes. In this blog and follow-ups we hope to highlight these changes. Of course, it is any person’s guess as to how the usual Illinois and Chicago political landscape effect the application of the rewrite.

We now know that a petitioner has a right to two separate choices of medical providers(grazianandvolpe.com August 5, 2011) and while the employee can opt out of the employer’s provider network, there are many deterrents to doing so.

An employer must inform an employee in writing of his or her right to to be treated by a physician of his or her choice from the employer’s preferred provider network. If the employee accepts the medical provider within that network, it is considered his or her first choice but referrals within the network will not count as a choice. However, an employee cannot change doctors within the network without a referral.

The act of declining to be treated (and this must be done in writing) by a provider within the network constitutes a choice, effectively limiting the employee to one choice of doctor and referrals thereunder are included in that choice. IF an employer is not participating in a preferred provider program, the employee retains the right to choose two separate medical providers.

Sections 8.1a and 8.a.4 allow an employee/petitioner the right to have two separate choices of medical provider subject to the limitations discussed above. The business community lobbied for but was unsuccessful in its bid to obtain total control over the pool of doctors from whom employees could choose. A bittersweet compromise now allows an employer or its representative (the insurance company) to create a panel of medical providers for submission for approval to the Illinois Department of Insurance and allow the employee to opt out of the providers network. But as discussed above, there are disincentives for the employee to do so.

Chicago and South Chicago as manufacturing and industry centers will serve to be a major testing ground for the application of these changes. The workers’ compensation lawyers at Grazian and Volpe will be discussing more changes in future blogs. We love to talk personal injury and workers’ compensation law and will always consult with clients or potential clients free of charge. Watch for us on Twitter, LinkedIn and WCIU, You and Me in the Mornings(first Tuesday of every month) where we take questions regarding every aspect of worker and accident injuries.

Grazian & Volpe, Part of the Lloyd Miller Law Group