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Proposed workers’ compensation changes leave some uncomfortable

On behalf of Jeffrey Frederick of Frederick & Hagle posted in Workers’ Compensation on Tuesday, May 19, 2015.

Although Illinois workers’ compensation benefits already underwent a significant overhaul several years ago, lawmakers are currently considering making even more changes to the system. While those in favor of the proposed changes believe that it will benefit employers by cutting out some of the cost involved with workers’ compensation insurance, opponents have some serious concerns. There are many people who believe that injured workers could be negatively impacted by the proposed reform.

According to those who support the changes, Illinois has the seventh highest workers’ compensation cost for employers despite the 2011 reform. Apparently eager to see more businesses move to Illinois, proponents says that a reduction in that cost would make the state more desirable to companies. One of the proposed reforms includes cutting back on fraudulent claims, although it is not clear how many workers’ comp claims are fraudulent. Additionally, a proposed plan to determine which claims are fraudulent has not been disclosed.

Those worried about the changes point to states that have already enacted similar reform. An out-of-state injured worker spoke at a hearing about how his state’s reform personally affected him. When his benefits suffered a drastic cut, he was forced to subsist on food stamps and was no longer able to care for his children. Instead, relatives now care for his three kids.

Workers’ compensation benefits can be seen as a mutually beneficial system. Illinois employers are protected from injured workers suing them, and employees who are hurt on the job have the guarantee of financially assistance. While the current proposed changes might leave some feeling unsettled, the proposal is still being discussed and nothing has been set in stone. Until then, victims who have suffered a workplace accident and are unable to return to work can file for workers’ comp, which addresses medical bills and lost wages until such a time that they are able to recover and return to work.

Source: beloitdailynews.com, “Business groups, injured employees weigh in on workers’ comp“, May 8, 2015

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