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Timeline for a Workers' Compensation decision

After you finish receiving medical treatment for your workers' compensation accident, your attorneys will attempt to reach a settlement with the insurance carrier and/or attorney for the employer. If negotiations do not resolve in a settlement, then your workers' compensation case will have to be tried before an Arbitrator. A hearing date will be selected to try the case when your case appears on the Illinois Workers' Compensation Docket. Your case will appear on the workers' compensation docket in a city close to where you were injured. 

When your case is tried before the Arbitrator, no decision is made that day. Both parties are required to send to the Arbitrator a proposed decision. The proposed decision lays out each party's respective position in the case with recommendations on how the Arbitrator should decide any issues. Usually the parties are required to submit their proposed decision within 14 days after the trial date. 

Once the Arbitrator receives the proposed decisions, he will review his notes from the hearing, review the medical records and then review the decisions. The Arbitrator will usually then write his own decision with his findings of facts and conclusions of law on the respective issues. Depending upon the number of trials tried before the Arbitrator and the complexity of the issues involved in each case, this decision could take anywhere from 30 days to 3 or 4 months. The decision is then sent to the Chicago Workers' Compensation Office and is emailed to the party's attorneys.

Upon receipt of the decision via email, each party will look over the proposed decision. Assuming that one of the parties is unhappy with the decision, a Petition for Review will be filed by that party to have oral arguments before a panel of three Commissioners. At the oral arguments, the attorneys will argue before the panel of three Commissioners as to why the decision was either correct or incorrect. That Petition for Review must be filed within 30 days of receipt of the decision.

Before oral arguments and after the Petition for Review has been filed, a transcript of the trial will be prepared and is sent to both parties. Once the transcript has been sent to both parties, then the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission will set guidelines as to when the transcript should be filed with the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission and when the parties should submit their respective briefs stating their positions. Usually, the transcript is filed with the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission within 30 days upon receipt of the transcript by the attorneys. The transcript contains the testimony and the evidence submitted at the trial that took place before the Arbitrator.

Next, the party who has filed the Petition for Review is required to prepare and file their brief with the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission first. The party that prevailed at the trial is required to file their response to the party reviewing the decision within 15 days. Following the filing of the Statement of Exceptions, oral arguments will be set before the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission. The total timeline from the date of receipt of the Arbitrator's decision and the oral arguments is approximately 6 to 9 months depending on the schedule of the court reporter and the Commissioner.

After oral arguments are completed, the decision of the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commissioners takes 30 to 60 days. The parties will receive the decision via email.

This usually concludes the workers' compensation claims; however, if there are any other issues which a party does not agree with the Commission's decision, then an appeal before the Circuit Court would be filed. This must be filed within 20 days after receipt of the decision of the Commission. Briefs are once again prepared and presented to the Circuit Court. A timeline would be set out as to when the briefs will be ordered. Arguments will then take place before the Circuit Court and a decision would be rendered. If one of the parties disagrees with the decision of the Circuit Court, then they can appeal to the Appellate Court. The total timeframe for appeals with the Circuit Court or Appellate Court can take anywhere from 12 to 18 months.

Most likely your case will not go up to the Circuit or Appellate Court for a final decision. Even if it doesn't, it usually takes a year before you will receive the final decision from the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission on your claim. You should keep this in mind when discussing possible offers to settle with your attorney.

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