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Workers’ comp reform may make it harder for injured employee

On behalf of of Frederick & Hagle posted in Workplace Injuries on Tuesday, March 17, 2015.

There was once a time in America when injured workers had no guarantee of compensation for injuries suffered while on the job. Before workers’ compensation benefits were enacted into law, the only hope for an injured employee to receive any type of recourse was to successfully litigate a civil suit against his or her boss. Although suing an employer for a workplace accident is no longer allowed absent egregious circumstances, the promise of guaranteed benefits has been successful for Illinois employees. Unfortunately, changes to these benefits have been sweeping the country, putting some workers at risk.

The changes to workers’ comp are far from minor. Over half of the 50 states have implemented reform that slashed benefits for injured workers. Others have made the process of qualifying for benefits after suffering certain injuries an unnecessarily difficult process.

Receiving less benefits or having to fight upstream to receive them in the first place can be damaging enough to those who have suffered serious injuries, but cutting those benefits off can be devastating. Most states now have a termination date for benefits with no exceptions for those who have not recovered. According to this type of reform, the law and even an employer are better judges of how much time a victim needs to recover.

In Illinois, payments for related medical care have been restricted by newly enacted caps. The argument for these caps includes cost-cutting benefits, but many doctors now refuse to care for victims of workplace accidents. While these types of reforms may have been implemented to make filing for and receiving workers’ compensation benefits more difficult, the process is still far from impossible. When completed successfully, an injured employee can focus more on their recovery and less on the financial impact of an injury.

Source: wfdd.org, “Injured Workers Suffer As ‘Reforms’ Limit Workers’ Compensation Benefits“, Howard Berkes, March 5, 2015

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