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Workers’ compensation causation standard: change would harm workers, P.1

As we like to point out on this blog, workers’ compensation is an important, even critical, financial resource for those who are injured or become ill as a result of their employment. This is particularly true given the fact that workers’ compensation is generally the only source of compensation available when a worker is injured on the job.

Under Illinois workers’ compensation law at present, employees who suffer injury as a result of accidents arising out of and in the course of employment are eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits. One of the issues that can sometimes come up in workers’ compensation cases, though, is causation. Causation, as readers might guess, refers to what causes the workplace injury, and is typically mentioned in the context of the standard of causation. 

Causation refers to the threshold at which a worker’s injuries are covered by the workers’ compensation system, and the rules surrounding the extent of coverage. Different states have different workers’ compensation causation standards. The causation standard here in Illinois is currently at one percent, and employers must pay an employee’s full workers’ compensation entitlements if they are at all responsible for the workers’ injury.

The standard is quite a bit stricter than a proposal currently under consideration in Wisconsin, which would establish a standard in which employers would only pay the percentage of benefits corresponding to their degree of responsibility for the injury or illness. The state of Illinois, according to Michael Lucci of the Illinois Policy Institute, could benefit from a similar change to its own policy. In our next post, we’ll look at the reasons offered and why it is important to work with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney when issues regarding causation arise.

Source: Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, “Handbook on Workers’ Compensation and Occupational Diseases,” Feb. 23, 2016.

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