In 2011, Illinois made alterations to the state’s workers’ compensation laws. In general, the new laws help companies save money. However, some point out that the savings are now to the detriment of injured workers. The new laws apply to injuries at the workplace which have occurred after September 1, 2011.
Under the changes, Illinois employees may choose their doctors. Workers may select one supplemental doctor if a second opinion is needed. Furthermore, the new laws permit referrals from original physicians to be covered under the system, too.
On the other hand, the revised laws now allow employers to have preferred provider networks under the system. This means that employees must select doctors approved by the program. The system penalizes employees otherwise. Moreover, if a person opts out of the network, this action counts as one of the worker’s selected choices of doctors.
Also, health care providers who care for injured workers are paid from a schedule of set fees. The revised laws reduce the fees. This ultimately lowers expenses for employers.
The restrictions on doctor choice and fees are not the only changes among workers’ compensation laws. The new laws limit wage benefits, too. For example, if a worker is unable to return to his or her previous job or the injury has resulted in work for less pay, the employee is entitled to a wage differential. These payments (given to the worker) account for a portion of the difference between one’s pre-injury wage and post-injury wage. Under old laws, these benefits were available indefinitely. However, the new laws allow benefits for five consecutive years or until the employee reaches the age of 67.
The 2011 changes also influence how employees present cases. In the past, if a worker was drinking on the job and something random injured the employee, the person could still receive benefits. This was true in cases where the drinking did not cause the injury. However, the new laws make such cases more difficult. Specifically, if an employee fails a drug or alcohol test, it is assumed that drunkenness was the cause of the work-related injury. The burden is then shifted to the employee, who must prove otherwise. Benefits are generally not available for those extremely intoxicated at the time of an accident.
In terms of proof, an employee’s specific testimony is no longer sufficient or helpful in proving a permanent disability, too. Instead, a list of objective factors are observed by arbitrators, including the age of the worker, his or her occupation, the employee’s earning capacity and evidence of a disability in medical records to decide.
These are just a few changes that came with the 2011 laws. If you are interested in receiving workers’ compensation benefits, it is crucial that you have legal assistance. The 2011 changes are complex and sophisticated, so it is important for a lawyer to be involved in the process. A workers’ compensation attorney can aid you in receiving the benefits that you deserve.