What is the Workers’ Compensation Act?

In 1911, the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act was enacted by the Illinois legislature to provide financial protection through the payment of specified benefits, to any worker who sustains an on-the-job injury.

Every employer is responsible for providing Workers’ Compensation benefits to injured workers directly (self-insured) or through the purchase of a Workers’ Compensation insurance policy. These benefits are provided at no cost to employees.

Every worker injured in Illinois, hired in Illinois but injured while working in another state or injured while working in another state for employer whose principal place of business is in Illinois, is covered by the Act.

On-the-job injuries covered by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act include any injury arising out of or in the course of employment, in addition to any injury resulting from repetitive trauma such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Also, accidents resulting from re-injury or aggravation of a pre-existing condition are compensable under the Act.

In exchange for receiving Workers’ Compensation benefits in a timely manner and regardless of fault, employees gave up the right to ever sue their employers for a work-related injury.

Recently, the Illinois legislature passed several revisions to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act.    The changes to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act affect any work-related injury sustained after September 1, 2011.

Below are the changes that we feel significantly affect injured workers:

  • The injured workers has a stronger burden of proving that their injury arose out of and in the course of their employment.
  • Awards based on a wage differential will be paid up to age 67 or five years from the date the award is final, which ever date occurs later.
  • The amount of maintenance benefits a worker on restricted receives will be reduced.  The benefit will now be paid on the difference between the worker’s gross earnings (as opposed to the net amount) and the worker’s average weekly wage.
  • The employer (or the employer’s workers compensation insurance carrier) is allowed to establish a network of treating physicians.  Any injured worker will be required to choose treatment with a maximum of two doctors from within the network.  Should the employee decide to seek treatment outside the network, they will only be allowed treatment by one doctor.
  • The maximum loss of use of hand was reduced from 205 weeks to 190 weeks.
  • Any claim for carpal tunnel syndrome will max out at 15% loss of use of the hand unless the injured employee (their physician) can provide medical documentation that the disability sustained is greater than 15%. If this can be proven, the cap for loss of use increases to 30%.
  • Compensation will be denied if an employee is intoxicated when they sustained an injury and it was their intoxication that is the proximate cause of the injury.   Compensation will also be denied if the intoxication was severe enough to cause a departure from the employee’s work performance.

Should you have any questions about the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act or the recent changes to the act complete the Free Case Evaluation form on our web site.