In June I argued before the Illinois Appellate Court the case of Smart vs. Central Grocers on behalf of a claimant who suffered a workplace injury. I am very happy to report the success of this case as it has widespread ramifications for all my clients and every injured worker in the State.
The employer argued that 2011 legislative changes required an injured worker to have a permanency rating prior to obtaining money for the injury. The cost of the rating in both time and expense was guesstimated to make at least half the claims pending before the Commission non-economic and therefore not worthwhile to pursue.
Many workers earning low wages or who had non-catastrophic injuries would have been deprived of an economic recovery. I am proud that my office was on the forefront of what is possibly the most seminal issue in workers compensation law in the last 30 years. If you know someone that needs a consultation with a workplace injury lawyer, I’m here to help.
Below is the Smart v Central Grocer order from the Appellate Court of Illinois Third District:
On March 7, 2012, claimant, Marque Smart, filed an application for adjustment of claim pursuant to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act (Act) (820 ILCS 305/1 to 305/1 to 30 (West 2006)), seeking benefits from the employer, Central Grocers. He alleged to have suffered a back injury while working on January 11, 2012.
Following a hearing, the arbitrator found that claimant sustained an accident arising out of and in the course of his employment and that claimant’s current condition of ill-being in his back was casually related to the accident. In awarding benefits, the arbitrator calculated claimant’s average weekly wage at $990. He awarded claimant 3 2/7 weeks’ temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits in the amount of $577.50 for the period of January 24, 2012 through February 16, 2012, and 41 ½ weeks’ temporary total disability (TTD) benefits in the amount of $660 per week for the period of February 17, 2012 through December 2, 2012. In addition, the arbitrator found claimant permanently partially disabled and awarded him permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits in the amount of 25% loss to the person as a whole. Last, the arbitrator declined to award penalties and attorney fees.
On review, the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (Commission), with one Commissioner dissenting, affirmed and adopted the decision of the arbitrator. On judicial review, the circuit court of Will County confirmed the Commission’s decision.
On appeal, the employer argues the Commission erred in (1) calculating claimant’s average weekly wage; (2) awarding TTD benefits based on the improperly calculated average weekly wage; and (3) awarding claimant PPD benefits where claimant failed to introduce into evidence a PPD impairment report as described in section 8.1b(a) of the Act (820 ILCS 305/8.1b(a) (West 2012)). In addition, the employer asserts the Commission’s denial of penalties and fees was proper. We affirm.
The following evidence relevant to the disposition of the appeal was elicited at the February 13, 2013, arbitration hearing.
View full order on the link below