When You are Injured, We are There for You
Personal injury claims can originate from all kinds of accidents, including traffic collisions, slip and fall, dog attack, a construction accident, or a premises defect, such as the collapse of a poorly constructed stairway or porch. Capron & Avgerinos handles many types of personal injury claims.
Whether at home, in the hospital or even over the phone, we can arrange a case evaluation and consult with you for
no fee whatsoever. We have the resources to ensure that your case is evaluated properly.
Illinois Workers' Compensation Reform:
What You Need to Know
Navigating the New System
One hundred years ago, the Illinois Legislature enacted a progressive law that guaranteed injured workers an expeditious and just way to obtain their benefits. Now fast forward to June 28, 2011. With the stroke of a pen, Governor Pat Quinn signed into law substantive changes diminishing that guarantee -- and undoing 100 years of legislation designed to ensure that workers are treated fairly in our legal system. An historic agreement between workers, management, physicians, and industry has been broken to benefit the interests of big business.
Nearly all the latest changes to the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act are adverse to injured workers. That's why, at Capron & Avgerinos, we want you to be informed of these changes. You must know your rights under the new law. And despite a system that now tilts in favor of the employer, we remain committed to helping you secure these rights and the compensation you are entitled to under the law.
How the New Law Affects Your Claim
First, we want you to know that the changes to the law generally do not affect any claims for compensation involving injuries occurring before June 28, 2011. Certain provisions of the new law became effective for accidents occurring on or after June 28, 2011. Other provisions become effective for accidents occurring on or after September 1, 2011.
We also want you to know that provisions of the new law:
- Allow employers to form "preferred provider programs" to treat injured employees; injured worker is not obligated to treat with company doctors at the "preferred provider program," but refusal to do so constitutes one of the injured worker's two "choices" of doctor;
- Reduce the value of carpal tunnel syndrome claims which are caused by repetitive trauma;
- Reduce the period for which a "wage differential" award can be paid to age 67 or five years after the award becomes final, whichever is later; (wage differential awards had previously been payable for life);
- Reduce the value of all settlements and awards for permanent partial disability by mandating that "AMA Guides to Permanent Impairment" be considered. (This system grossly reduces the value of claims by considering only objective measurements, rather than how an injury affects a worker's ability to perform his job.);
- Reduce the amounts paid to treating doctors by 30% across the board, thus potentially reducing the number of qualified doctors who are willing to accept workers' comp patients;
- Mandate that any injured worker who refuses a blood or urine test shall be presumed to have been intoxicated, thereby resulting in a denial of compensation unless the injured worker can prove that he/she was not intoxicated.
The Impact on Our State and Its Workers
What impact do we anticipate these changes will have on our State's economy and its workers? First, insurance rates will not drop, as supporters of this legislation contend: Rather, historical trends show that even with these kinds of legislative overhauls, insurance premiums continue to climb. If businesses are being hit by high insurance premiums as the result of workers' compensation claims, then perhaps the practices of the insurance industry should be investigated and better regulated. Second, we predict that some injured workers might be forced onto welfare or other public aid programs, where they will become a burden to the taxpayer, and not the responsibility of the employer or workplace where they were injured.
Business associations, corporations, and the insurance industry drove these changes to the law that certainly diluted the rights of injured workers. Yet, these special interest groups were stymied in one critical area: The concept of which injuries and conditions are considered to be "work-related," and therefore compensable under the Act, has not been affected. It is enough if the employment was a contributing factor. This area of the law is particularly important for protecting workers in professions in which repetitive action can contribute to trauma and injury.
Still, a recent session of the Illinois General Assembly saw extremely heated discussions on the question of which injuries are covered or excluded. Some Illinois legislators complained that the law did not go far enough in requiring workers to prove that their injuries were caused by their jobs.
What can we expect of our legislature now? We believe that the business and the insurance lobbies will once again mount an effort to dismantle the rights of injured workers. That is why we urge our friends and colleagues to be especially vigilant about any new proposed changes to the Workers' Compensation Act. A phone call to your State Senator or Representative is the best way to make your voice heard in Springfield.
Our Mission is Unchanged
In sum, we founded our business to provide the highest quality of legal assistance to those who are injured. Although the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act has changed, our mission has not changed. Please call us at (800) 535-4542 if you have any questions about how the new law might affect your claim or that of a relative or friend.
Nick J. Avgerinos,
Daniel F. Capron,
Stephen J. Smalling,
Michael A. Rom
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