Illinois Lawmakers and Business Groups pushing to make more changes to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act

A pair of bills that would add more changes to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act are being supported by Illinois lawmakers and Illinois business groups.

The first, Senate Bill 2521 was introduced by Senator Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon, and it is expected that it will receive a committee hearing sometime during April.  The bill states “An injury, its occupational cause, and any resulting manifestations or disability must be established to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, based objective relevant medical findings, and the accidental compensable injury must be the major contributing cause of any resulting injuries.”

‘Major contributing cause’ means the cause which is more than 50% responsible for the injury as compared to all other causes combined for treatment or benefits are sought,”  as stated in the bill.  “Injury” includes “the aggravation of a pre-existing condition by an accident arising out of and in the course of the employment, but only for so long as the aggravation of the pre-existing condition continues to be the major contributing cause of the disability.”

There is a misconception that the causation standard is lower than other judicial systems, but the fact of the matter is, is that the causation standard for workers compensation is no different.

The second bill, House Bill 6145,  introduced by Representative Dwight Kay, R-Glen Carbon, targets a recent appellate court decision.

HB 6145 provides that when computing what an employee should receive for compensation for an injury, that the “percentage of partial disability shall be deducted from any award made for a subsequent injury to the same portion of the body as was involved in the prior injury for which compensation was paid.”

The bill was drafted in response to an appellate court decision in where the shoulder was deemed to be not part of the arm and that the employee should have received a scheduled award and not permanent partial disability award.  Thus removing any credit an employer may receive for prior permanent partial disability awards to the arm involving shoulder injuries.

The bill also adds that “injuries to the shoulder shall be considered to be injuries to part of the arm and injuries to the hip shall be considered to be injuries to the part of the leg.”

Considering that the Appellate court decision isn’t the final ruling on the case (it may be overturned by the state Supreme Court) it may be a little premature to consider additional legislative changes to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act.