The Illinois Industrial Commission Awarded $18,949 In Section 19(K) Penalties And $7,579 In Section 16 Attorneys Fees For Defendant’s Unilateral Termination Of Ptd Benefits

In awarding penalties and attorney fees, the Commission determined that defendant’s unilateral termination of permanent total disability benefits occurred three weeks before claimant’s failure to attend a scheduled medical examination and therefore could not be premised on section of the Workers’ Compensation Act.

In December 1987, the arbitrator found claimant permanently totally disabled under section 8(f) due to work injuries sustained on Jan 11, 1979. The arbitrator found that claimant sustained a badly fractured leg requiring surgery and lengthy periods of inactivity. She further found that claimant’s orthopedic problems were complicated by increased obesity, diabetes and hypertension, which did not manifest until after the work accident. The arbitrator determined that the work accident aggravated the problems which made claimant unemployable. From December 1987 until March 1995, defendant made timely payment of permanent total disability benefits. Defendant also made multiple and extensive attempts to obtain from claimant medical information and documentation regarding claimant’s ongoing medical condition and his inability to perform gainful employment.

Claimant filed a petition for penalties under section 19(k) and attorney fees under section 16, claiming defendant unilaterally terminated claimant’s permanent total disability benefits without filing a petition pursuant to section 8(f) seeking a determination that claimant’s disability had “diminished or ended.” Defendant resumed permanent total disability benefits and filed a Motion to Suspend and Terminate permanent total disability benefits.

The Commission awarded claimant $18949 in penalties under section 19(k) and $7,579 in attorney fees under section 16 for defendant’s unilateral termination of permanent total disability benefits. The Commission noted that defendant’s termination of benefits occurred three weeks before claimant’s failure to attend defendant’s scheduled medical examination because defendant did not pay the travel costs in advance as required by section 12.

Also, the Commission denied defendant’s motion to suspend and terminate permanent total disability benefits. The Commission relied on the opinions of claimant’s treating doctor, which indicated that claimant’s condition remained

unchanged and chronic. Claimant had continued to treat with his doctor from 1991 through 1998 and at no time did the doctor authorize claimant to return to work. The doctor opined that although claimant at times may have appeared to have improved, such improvement was temporary and claimant’s condition ultimately worsened. The Commission pointed out that even the report of defendant’s doctor showed no new objective findings indicating that claimant’s condition had substantially changed.

Dear valued clients:

Our office is aware of the Covid 19 situation and is taking measures to keep our staff safe during these difficult times. For the immediate future, we will not be meeting in person with any of our clients. However, all of our clients can reach us by telephone, email at chicagolegalnet@yahoo.com or by facsimile at 630-451-9477. Our office remains open and we will continue our work as usual. We feel this is best for everyone concerned.

If you have recently suffered an injury from a work related accident and would like to retain our services, the entire process can be done by telephone, electronic and/or regular mail. We have operators available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Please feel free to contact us anytime at 312-661-0450 and speak with one of our experienced and knowledgeable attorneys. Once this is has passed, we will gladly meet with you in person to answer any questions or address any concerns you may have.

Thank you for your patience and consideration. Be safe and stay healthy!

Regards

Donald Fohrman
Donald W. Fohrman & Associates, Ltd.