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A denied Illinois worker’s compensation claim can be disputed

On behalf of Jeffrey Frederick of Frederick & Hagle posted in Workers’ Compensation on Thursday, October 25, 2012.

Illinois workers injured on the job should be able to collect workers’ compensation benefit that will cover the medical expenses associated with the injury, and in some cases, vocational rehabilitation and maintenance benefits. Additionally, in instances where a worker is injured due to the negligent fault of a third party, meaning a party that is not the employer, the injured worker could sue for negligence.

These workers’ compensation benefits are often crucial to an injured worker. While some claims are denied, that can be disputed. In an unsettling study recently published in this month’s issue of Occupational and Environment Medicine, researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health found that there was a significant difference between the amounts of workers’ compensation benefits awarded to white non-Hispanic construction workers in Illinois compared to their minority counter parts in the same field.

The most common types of injury associated with a construction workers of any ethnicity were fractures, internal injuries and open wounds. So even though it appears that the injuries were consistent across ethnicities, white non-Hispanic construction works still received on average $6,000 more in benefits. This is unsettling because ethnicity should not play any role in determining if an injured worker receives workers’ comp benefits.

The researchers did not conclude why, precisely, there is this disparity. However, the lead author did offer that while it could be a systemic bias, it could also be indicative of a possible disparity between ethnicities regarding the level of legal knowledge. Meaning, some injured construction workers may not be aware that when a claim is denied, they do have the right and ability to contest that denial. Experienced legal counsel can aid an individual in navigating the legal infrastructure of workers’ compensation.

Source: Insurance Journal, “Study: White Construction Workers in Illinois Get Higher Work Comp Settlements,” Oct. 15, 2012

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