The governor’s race is quickly winding down. We are now less than a month away from the election and I believe that this election will have a significant impact on many injury victims. There are numerous issues to consider when thinking about which individual to vote for and I don’t plan to talk about any of them other than how this election may affect the areas of personal injury and worker’s compensation.
No issue, other than taxation, perhaps shows the disparity between the two candidates. Rauner has said on numerous occasions that he wants to cut back on abuses in the worker’s compensation system. You can be sure by abuses that he is not talking about companies that unjustly deny or delay benefits resulting in significant medical and financial hardships for honest hard-working individuals. He believes quite to the contrary that businesses are being taken advantage of by injured workers. He has stated that he believes that businesses are leaving the state of Illinois because of its worker’s compensation system. Well, all I can say to that is that, how much do we want an employer who is unwilling to provide basic benefits for an injured worker. Rauner has stated that he wants to see the Illinois Work Comp system modeled after the Texas system, a system in which the employer has all the power and the employee is left at their bleak mercy.
In contrast to this position, Governor Quinn has been touting the pro-business changes already made to the worker’s compensation law and has said that more time is needed to see the full impact. This is very true. The cost of work comp claims in Illinois has been reduced dramatically under Governor Quinn for employers and the number of claims has been cut by almost 1/3. Yet despite all of this, insurance companies have not reduced the premiums for most companies. Governor Quinn has tried to take a fair and middle of the road approach to the review of work comp and has in my opinion even erred on the side of the business. It has already become much harder for injured workers in the state of Illinois and it’s hard to imagine what it would be like if even more anti-worker provisions were added to the Work Comp Act.
With regard to personal injury claims, Rauner supports limits on the ability of injured individuals to seek redress through the court by ending what he calls frivolous lawsuits. He supports caps on how much a jury can award. Rauner supports the idea of tort reform but all he really means by this is a limit on the rights of injury victims. Real tort reform should include a revision of the system to include significant increases in the state minimum car insurance, penalties to insurance carriers for frivolously denying claims, and a simplification of discovery in motor vehicle claims.
Governor Quinn has not spoken much to these subjects although he did at one point support an increase in the state minimum car insurance. That change alone would be essential. It is unthinkable that we allow drivers to have only $20,000 in coverage when a simple ER bill can be that much.
Thus, there is a real difference between the two candidates and how their positions will affect you as an injury victim. These may not be the only issues, but they are certainly ones for you to consider when you decide who to vote for.