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Illinois Appellate Court Issues Noteworthy Decision on Statute of Limitation in Workers’ Compensation Claims

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An Illinois Appellate Court recently affirmed a decision by a Cook County circuit court judge holding that a workers’ compensation claim was not time-barred even though it was filed more than three years after the date of the injury.

In Modern Drop Forge v. Workers’ Compensation Commission, Case No. 2012 IL App. (1st) 110539 WC-U, the claimant had suffered injuries to her right shoulder while working for Modern Drop Forge, which required surgery and physical therapy that was paid by the employer’s non-occupational disability plan. She sought a readjustment of the claim in October 1999, in which she indicated that the date of the workplace accident was September 24, 1998. In August 2002, she amended the date of the accident to “on or about May 22, 1996.”

The employer sought dismissal of the claim, arguing that it was not filed within the statute of limitations which expired three years after the accident date of May 22, 1996. In other words, because the application for readjustment hadn’t been filed until October 7, 1999 (more than three years following the accident date), the employer argued that her claim was barred.

The arbitrator disagreed with the employer, however, and said that the claim was filed in a timely manner because it was filed within two years of the last payment of benefits under a group non-occupational disability plan. Accordingly, the arbitrator awarded the claimant additional workers’ compensation benefits.

The arbitrator’s decision was affirmed by both Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission and the Illinois Circuit Court.

Appellate Court’s Decision

On appeal, the Illinois Appellate Court affirmed the arbitrator’s decision that a claim had been timely filed. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act states that “a claimant’s application for compensation must be filed within three years after the date of accident when ‘no compensation has been paid’ or, where compensation has been paid, within two years after the date of the last payment of compensation.” The Act also provides for a credit toward an employer’s workers’ compensation obligations if the injured employee received benefits under the employer’s group plan covering non-occupational disabilities.

In this case, the claimant filed her application for readjustment of claim in October 1999 – less than 18 months after she had received her last payment from the employer’s non-occupational disability plan.

The appellate court then considered the issue of whether the amended application to change the date of the workplace accident from September 24, 1998 to May 22, 1996 was time-barred. The appellate court held that the amended application was not time-barred because it “related back” to the same injury and there was no evidence to suggest that the claimant had suffered two injuries.

What Does This Case Mean For You?

As this case suggests, workers’ compensation claims are far from rule-of-the-mill legal proceedings. There are often several nuances, complex procedural requirements, and complicated evidentiary issues. Injured employees are advised to seek the advice of legal counsel as soon as possible in order to prevent mistakes in original claims that would necessitate the filing of significantly amended claims as was the case in Modern Drop Forge v. Workers’ Compensation Commission, Case No. 2012 IL App. (1st) 110539 WC-U.

The Chicago workers’ compensation lawyers at Ankin Law Office, LLC focus on helping accident and injury victims, including injured employees, pursue any and all legal action for their injuries. If you have been injured while working, we can help you determine how to proceed in order to ensure that you receive maximum compensation for your injuries, medical bills, and lost wages. Contact our office at (312) 481-6405 to schedule a free consultation with one of our knowledgeable Chicago workplace injury attorneys.

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