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ATTENTION: You may be eligible for Rate Adjustment Fund benefits if you receive or have received workers' compensation benefits due to a death or permanent and total disability. Please contact Barbara Bentivenga, Special Funds Counsel, if you have questions. 


TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

Group email news service

The Commission offers a group email news service.  When we post a story on this page, we also send it to our subscribed group.  If you would like to receive our news via email, complete the fields below.

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Commission decisions now online
No hearings, settlements on April 28, 29
Ronald Rascia named Acting Secretary
Bloomington and Urbana status calls rescheduled
Come to an open house

Check Belleville/Collinsville schedule 
Note changes to calendars
Another felony conviction won against uninsured employer
Reminder on attorneys' fees
Print screens no longer available from File Room

Avoid problems and expedite settlement approval
Dept of Insurance to enforce interest, denial provisions of ActNew process for requesting files
Clarification on expedited (19(b), 19(b-1)) decision forms 
Please help us remove settled cases from the call  
Arbitration policies in effect   

Features on IWCC websiteThink "Safety First" at work and at home
Injuries continue to decline
Commission encourages more Settlement Days
Send court orders to Commission
Need help bringing a worker back to light duty?


 

Commission decisions now online

Starting with 2014, Commission ("IWCC") decisions are now posted on the IWCC website.

posted 3/28/14

 

No hearings, settlements on April 28, 29

All arbitrators and commissioners will be in training sessions on April 28-29. There will be no hearings nor review of settlements.  Please plan accordingly.

posted 3/25/14

 

Ronald Rascia named Acting Secretary

Chairman Latz has appointed Ronald Rascia as Acting Secretary of the Commission. Ron's office is now located in the Chairman's Office.

Ron joined the Commission in April 2011 as Chief Legal Counsel. He holds a BA in Economics from DePaul, and both a JD and Master of Law in Intellectual Property from John Marshall.

posted 3/24/14

 

Bloomington and Urbana status calls rescheduled

In response to requests about conflicting status calls dates in Bloomington and Urbana, we rescheduled the calls in May, June, and August so they are not held on the same day.  Thanks to the attorneys who brought the issue to our attention. 

New dates Bloomington Urbana

May

28 (call), 29, 30 27 (call), 28, 29, 30
June 24 (call), 25, 26, 27 23 (call), 24, 25, 26
August 26 (call), 27, 28, 29 25 (call), 26, 27, 28

posted 3/5/14

 

Come to an open house

You are invited to an open house at our Chicago office on June 19, 2014 (FULL--will set more dates soon) at 9:15 am. After an overview of our court process, visitors will observe arbitration hearings and review-level oral arguments. After oral arguments end, there will be a question-and-answer period with commissioners. The program will end around 12 noon.

There is no charge to attend, but registration is limited. To sign up, please send an email with the subject "open house" and the desired date.

If you are interested in a Downstate program, please send an email, indicating the city you prefer and how many people would attend. You are always welcome to observe hearings at any site on your own: see the calendars web page for details.

When the Commission announced an open house in Chicago in January 2010, the seats filled up on the day it was announced.  Subsequent programs also filled up and have been well-received. In all, over 800 people have signed up to attend.  Visitors walk away with a greater understanding of how to interact with the Commission and work with the process. 

revised 4/17/14

 

Check Belleville/Collinsville schedule

Now that the Collinsville site has been expanded to include days in Belleville, please check the schedule to determine where calls and trials will be held.

posted 1/29/14

 

Note changes to calendars

Please note we have made the following changes to the calendars:

Level Location Arbitrator/Panel Date(s) CANCELLED Date(s) ADDED
Arbitration Urbana Dearing April 25  
  Rockford Fratianni Oct. 16  
Review Chicago Brennan May 6  May 9  9 am
  Collinsville Donohoo May 19 June 16 1 pm
  Chicago Donohoo May 20 May 21 2 pm
  Mt Vernon Donohoo May 22 May 15 9 am
  Chicago Donohoo June 24 June 18 2 pm

We apologize for any inconvenience.

revised 4/22/14; posted 10/15/13

 

Another felony conviction won against uninsured employer

Another uninsured employer has pled guilty to a Class 4 felony for refusing to obtain workers' compensation insurance. John Linek, individually and as President of SMS Logistics of Chicago, has been ordered to pay a $10,000 penalty for refusing to obtain workers compensation insurance. The IWCC's Insurance Compliance Unit had been requesting compliance with the Act from this trucking firm since 2010.

In August 2013, the Compliance Division obtained a felony conviction against Ahmed Ghosien, d/b/a Ghosien European Auto Werks in Hometown. Ghosien pled guilty to a Class 4 felony for failing to obtain workers' compensation insurance. The IWCC's Insurance Compliance Unit worked with the Cook County Sheriff's Office and the Cook County State's Attorney's Special Prosecutions Division to obtain the conviction. Again, the Insurance Compliance Unit had worked on the case since 2010.

Both of these individuals were given many opportunities to obtain insurance before charges were filed, but they persistently refused. Employers who fail to follow the law put their workers at risk, and they enjoy an unfair competitive advantage over law-abiding employers.

posted 11/21/13

 

Reminder on attorneys' fees

This is a reminder to all attorneys that the law (820 ILCS 305/16a(B)) limits attorneys' fees:

"...(E)xcept as hereinafter provided in this Section, in death cases, total disability cases and partial disability cases, the amount of an attorney's fees shall not exceed 20% of the sum which would be due under this Act for 364 weeks of permanent total disability based upon the employee's average gross weekly wage prior to the date of the accident and subject to the maximum weekly benefits provided in this Act unless further fees shall be allowed to the attorney upon a hearing by the Commission fixing fees."

Please be sure you are in compliance.

posted 8/19/13

 

Print screens no longer available from File Room

Effective August 1, 2013, the File Room will no longer print and certify case screens for the general public. Case information is now readily available on the Commission website. In lieu of the certification stamp, your printer will indicate the date and time. This change will give our hard-working staff more time to process and pull files, thereby improving our service to you. We will appreciate your understanding.

posted 7/30/13

 

Avoid problems and expedite settlement approval

When submitting settlement contracts, please keep the following points in mind:

1. Make sure that you send enough copies of the contract so that the arbitrator can keep one more copy than the number of cases covered on the contract. For example, if two cases are closed on one contract, the arbitrator will need to keep three copies.
2. If you want to receive a copy of an approved Downstate contract, include a self-addressed stamped envelope.
3. If an arbitration decision has been appealed, the arbitrator no longer has jurisdiction in the case. The settlement contract must be considered by the assigned commissioner.

posted 6/10/13

 

Department of Insurance to enforce
interest and denial provisions of Act

The Department of Insurance has issued a bulletin to insurance companies, reminding them to comply with two provisions in the medical fee schedule portion of the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act:

   Section 8.2(d)(2)

If the claim does not contain substantially all the required data elements necessary to adjudicate the bill, or the claim is denied for any other reason, in whole or in part, the employer or insurer shall provide written notification, explaining the basis for the denial and describing any additional necessary data elements, to the provider within 30 days of receipt of the bill.

   Section 8.2(d)(3)

In the case of nonpayment to a provider within 30 days of receipt of the bill which contained substantially all of the required data elements necessary to adjudicate the bill or nonpayment to a provider of a portion of such a bill up to the lesser of the actual charge or the payment level set by the Commission in the fee schedule established in this Section, the bill, or portion of the bill, shall incur interest at a rate of 1% per month payable to the provider. Any required interest payment shall be made within 30 days after payment.

updated 1/10/13; posted 12/17/12


New process for requesting files

Effective immediately, parties of record (Petitioner, Petitioner’s attorney, Respondent, or Respondent’s attorney) or the Petitioner's medical provider must provide proof of identity (ARDC card and/or valid State ID) before viewing a file.

People who are not a party of record must submit a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. FOIA gives agencies at least five business days to respond.

Please email FOIA requests to Deputy General Counsel/FOIA Officer, Dennie Michelle Mogensen and copy Nicholas Velazquez.  Alternately, you may mail requests to

Ms. Dennie Michelle Mogensen, FOIA Officer
IWCC
100 W. Randolph Ste 8-200
Chicago, IL 60601

Information falling under FOIA exemptions will be redacted. 

The IWCC is dedicated to providing documents promptly and protecting the privacy of claimants.

updated 3/27/14; posted 11/20/12

 

Clarification on expedited (19(b) and 19(b-1)) decision forms

Please note that the fact that an expedited (19(b) or 19(b-1)) petition was filed does not necessarily mean an expedited decision should be issued. Administratively, an expedited decision form is one in which the arbitrator or commissioner

1) does not address permanency;
2) rules only on TTD, TPD, maintenance, or medical benefits; and
3) orders that the case shall be returned to the call using the “not a bar” language.

On an expedited decision form, in the Order section, the arbitrator or commissioner states,

"In no instance shall this award be a bar to subsequent hearing and determination of an additional amount of temporary total disability, medical benefits, or compensation for a permanent disability, if any."

This "not a bar" language remands the case back to the call for a hearing at which permanency can be addressed.  Whenever permanency issues are addressed--whether benefits are awarded or the petitioner is found ineligible--an expedited decision form should not be used. Depending on the arbitrator or commissioner's preferences, parties may file a motion to come out of the 19(b) or 19(b-1) process, or they may state on the record that the arbitrator or commissioner may address permanency.

In any case, to prevent administrative problems, please do not use an expedited decision form and delete the "not a bar" language. Keep in mind that, administratively, the distinguishing feature of an expedited decision form is one in which the arbitrator or commissioner returns the case to the call.

Thanks for your cooperation in these matters. It will help cases flow more smoothly through the process.

posted 2/8/10


Please help us remove settled cases from the call

Because it is important to all of us that the IWCC database is as accurate as possible, we are asking for your help in removing settled cases from the call.  Simply informing the arbitrator a case is settled is not sufficient. If your case was settled but still appears on the call after three months, please email or mail a copy of the contract to James Gentry, Central Files Supervisor, in our Chicago office.

In those rare instances where you cannot locate the contract, please complete the "Order Removing Settled Case from the Call" (IC34s) form, and obtain the arbitrator's approval. You do not have to complete this form if you provide a copy of the contract.

posted 12/19/08

 

Arbitration policies in effect

This is a reminder that the following arbitration trial policies are in effect:

1. Parties present and ready for trial shall be given priority over parties either not ready or those requesting pre-trials.
2. Parties will not be required by arbitrators to submit to pre-trials.
3. Parties who request a pre-trial will be given an opportunity for a pre-trial after trials have concluded.
4. All additional rules or requirements of arbitrators, as a condition to obtaining a trial, that are inconsistent with the mandate of Section 16 that procedures be simple and summary, shall be immediately discontinued.
5. All arbitrators will grant trials pursuant to Section 19(b) of the Act on any case where the petitioner is claiming past or current benefits remain unpaid, regardless of the petitioner's current work status. This includes past or future medical, TTD, and maintenance.  For example, if a petitioner has returned to work but TTD or medical remains unpaid, he or she has a right to a trial pursuant to Section 19(b).
6. All arbitrators at all Downstate venues will begin conducting trials on each and every trial date listed on their schedule if requested to do so by the parties. Furthermore, the parties will not be required to wait through each day of the call until they are reached and may return for trial on the date they have chosen.

revised 2/14/12; posted 2005



Features on IWCC website

We are always trying to improve our website.  Here's a list of recent improvements.

1.

The Commission offers a group email news service that emails news as soon as it is posted to our website.  Over 2,000 people have signed up. To enroll, type your email address in the field at the top of the news page. You should receive an email asking for confirmation; if you didn't, you may want to check your settings for your email.  You may be rejecting our emails as spam.  The emails will be sent from wcc-newsgroup@lists.illinois.gov.

2.

The case information web page allows users to check the status of cases, obtain attorneys' contact information, status call dates, hearing locations, accident dates, parts of body injured, motions, connected cases, and terms of settlements/decisions. You can now search by employee or employer name!  This page is receiving over 200,000 hits each month.

Please use this page instead of calling us for this information: the online information is more readily available to you, and our Information staff will then be free to give time to callers with substantive questions.

Because we update our database at night, the case screen is available Monday through Saturday from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and on Sunday from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

There is a link on the upper right-hand and left-hand sides of our home page, or you can click here.

3.

Users may search online for an employer's w.c. insurance carrier, thanks to information provided by the National Council on Compensation Insurance.  This page is receiving 30,000 hits each month. There are links in the right- and left-hand columns on our home page, or you may click here

4.

Chicago trial dates are posted roughly one hour after a Chicago status call ends. The online list is the official list of Chicago trial dates that were assigned at the status call.  The arbitrator no longer manually stamps documents at the call.  If you wish to reschedule a trial, please contact the arbitrator to whom the case is assigned. 

Since this change took effect, Commission staff have been instructed to refer callers with questions about trial dates to the website.

5. You may now fill out and print the pdf forms using the Adobe Reader.  You can save them if you buy Adobe Acrobat.
6. Starting with January 2014, we now post Commission decisions online.

Please let us know if you have any suggestions for the website. It exists to serve you, so tell us how it can be better.

revised 4/22/142; posted 2005




Think "Safety First" at work and at home

Which would you guess is higher: the rate of accidental injury at home or at work?  Believe it or not, the National Safety Council says home is more dangerous. And while work-related injury rates are declining, off-the-job injuries have increased significantly. 

Nine out of ten deaths and three out of four injuries to workers occurred off the job. We encourage everyone to cultivate safety awareness at all times.

revised 4/15/13


Injuries continue to decline

The overall injury rate in Illinois in 2010 was 65% lower than in 1990. Experts believe that some of the decline is due to improved safety efforts. These programs are great investments, because everyone wins when accidents are prevented.

Frequency of Injury by Type per 100,000 Workers in Illinois

POLICY YEAR

MEDICAL ONLY

TTD

PPD

PTD

FATAL

TOTAL INJURIES

1990

6,948

1,661

919

4

7

9,539

1995

4,877

1,226

675

4

4

6,786

2000
3,869
842
689
7
5
5,412
2005
2,585
600
541
13
2
3,741
2010
2,220
533
557
2
2
3,315

Source: National Council on Compensation Insurance, Annual Statistical Bulletin, 1993-2013 editions, Exhibit XII, "First Report" data.  Fatal and PTD data are based on a small number of cases and should be viewed with caution. TTD = Temporary Total Disability; PPD = Permanent Partial Disability; PTD = Permanent Total Disability.

Fatal injuries. Since the US Department of Labor started this study in 1992, fatal injuries have declined significantly: down 29% in the US, down 44% in Illinois.  The construction and transportation industries have the most fatalities; transportation and violence are the leading causes of death. Men and self-employed workers are disproportionately likely to be killed.

Fatal Occupational Injuries in U.S. and Illinois
YEAR
U.S.
ILLINOIS
1992
6,217
260
1995
6,275
249
2000
5,920
206
2005
5,734
194
2010
4,690
203
2011
4,693
177
2012p
4,383
145
Change 1992-2012
-29%
-44%

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Illinois Department of Public Health, "Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries," various years. Some figures were revised after the initial publication of data. 

Nonfatal injuries. IDPH reports that 3.6% of IL workers experienced a nonfatal injury in 2011. The highest injury rates occurred in trade, transportation and utilities; education and health services; and manufacturing.  The most common type of injury was a sprain or strain, and the back was the part of the body most injured.

Source: Illinois Department of Public Health, "Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses in Illinois, 2011," September 2013.  For more information on the BLS/IDPH studies, go to the IDPH website.

revised 11/26/13


Commission encourages more Settlement Days

As we all know, the Commission is a high-volume operation. Each arbitrator handles roughly 3,000 cases at any time, which makes it essential to make the best possible use of his or her time. We also know that opposing parties on a case often do not meet until the day of trial. Valuable trial time is then spent on perfunctory matters, easily-resolved discrepancies, and hallway negotiations.

In response, several years ago the Commission started encouraging groups to hold a "Settlement Day" at the Commission. The idea is to bring the two sides together informally to discuss the case and narrow the issues in dispute.

In a typical Settlement Day, an employer, insurance company, or law firm will invite opposing counsel on 25-100 cases to come to the Commission to see if the issues in dispute can be resolved.

No hearing officers or Commission staff are present at Settlement Day conferences. If the parties reach agreement, an arbitrator is available to review the settlement contracts that day.

Thousands of cases have been resolved through this process, and the Commission encourages groups to try it for themselves.

If you find files that are ready to go and you invite the opposing counsel to a Settlement Day, "your success rate should be over 50%," says Keith Brown, senior claims manager at Wausau Insurance, which has set up over a dozen Settlement Days.

"You can close more cases in a Settlement Day than you would ordinarily close in a day or even a week," he continues. "Everyone's in a frame of mind to settle the claims out. It brings down both parties' caseloads and gets the files out of the system."

For more information, or to schedule a Settlement Day, please contact Nick Velazquez (312/814-6560).

revised 7/22/08

 

Send court orders to Commission

If you are involved in a case in which a court issues an order requiring the Commission to act, please send a copy of the order to Bessie Mims (312/814-6572), and ask the court to return the transcript to us. The courts do not always send us copies of their orders, and cases may fall into limbo if we are not informed. Thanks for your help in keeping the process running smoothly.

 

Need help bringing a worker back to light duty?

The federal Job Accommodation Network (800/526-7234) offers free information regarding workplace accommodations for disabled workers. This service may be particularly helpful to employers that are trying to bring injured workers back to light-duty work.

Given the functional requirements of a job and the individual's limitations, a consultant will provide advice on the appropriate workplace accommodations. Fortunately, most employees can be accommodated at a modest cost. Often, it is cheaper to pay for the accommodations than to continue to pay Temporary Total Disability benefits.

 

 

 

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