Inadvertent Mistake Does Not Excuse Employer’s Delay In Paying Benefits

Case nameChomyk v. City of Chicago/Dept. Of Streets and Sanitation, 12 ILWCLB 34 (Ill.Ind.Comm.2004)

Ruling: The Commission awarded $16,278 in additional compensation under Section 19(k) and $3,255 in attorney’s fees under Section 16 for the city of Chicago’s delay in paying workers’ compensation benefits to an injured employee.

What it means: An employer’s explanation that a delay in payment was due to a misunderstanding of the time limitations does not justify a delay of payment, especially where the employee has sent repeated written request reminding the employer of its obligation to pay the award.

Summary: The arbitrator awarded the claimant $32,500 in permanent partial and temporary total disability benefits for injuries sustained while working for the City of Chicago. The claimant sent four written requests for payment of the award. On Sept. 10, 2003, the claimant filed a petition for penalties and attorney’s fees. Payment was received by the claimant’s attorney on Sept. 12, 2003. The Commission granted the petition, noting that where there is a delay in payment of benefits due a claimant, the burden is on the employer to justify the delay. Here, the employer claims that this case inadvertently “slipped through the cracks” and that an employee involved in the claims process did not understand the time limitations for review proceedings. The Commission found such justification not persuasive, particularly in light of the claimant’s repeated written requests reminding the employer of its obligation to pay the award.