The push for workers compensation reform in Illinois began in earnest in 2011. Since then, a series of changes to the compensation requirements made it more difficult for workers to receive the compensation they deserve. A workers compensation attorney in Chicago can protect injured employees from an erosion of their rights in four areas of the law.
Choice Of Doctor
Under the current guidelines, employees are required to use a doctor provided to them by their employer after an injury. The doctor may not be a good fit for the injured employee’s needs, or show favoritism to the company when making a diagnosis.
Employees can opt for a different doctor, but even then, the doctor must come from a list of pre-approved physicians. Once decided, the choice of doctor cannot be altered, unless the original doctor refers the employee to a third party.
Period Of Compensation
Lifetime disability payments were radically cut under recent changes. Employees will not receive lifetime compensation between the difference in two different positions, when the new position became necessary after an injury. The current cap allows for only compensation until age 67, or five years of total compensation for workers over the age of 63.
Adherence To AMA Guidelines
Doctors must now assess the severity of an employee’s injury, and the extent it might have been caused by an employer, using the guidelines established by the AMA. A workers compensation attorney in Chicago will note quickly that the stricter AMA guidelines severely limit the liability for businesses, and reduce the number of injuries that qualify for compensation.
The issue of impairment vs. disability is the chief complaint a workers compensation attorney in Chicago will level at the changes to the law. Impairment categories injuries that do not directly impair an employee’s ability to do a job, while disability is an injury that prohibits certain work duties. The AMA guidelines are more likely to classify injuries as impairments than disabilities, which lowers the available compensation.
The change to hand injuries proved devastating for employees with carpal tunnel syndrome. The standard of proof of liability was raised considerably, and now very few workers qualify for compensation for injuries to their hands.
The changes made a workers compensation attorney in Chicago more necessary than ever before to protect against the erosion of rights for workers.