Archive for December, 2013

White Collar Convictions on the Rise for Workers’ Compensation Act Violations

December 29th, 2013 at 9:11 am

Every state has its own unique workers’ compensation laws that govern local business owners’ obligations to their employees. In Illinois, almost all employers are required to obtain workers’ compensation insurance for any individual who is injured, hired, or has localized employment in Illinois. The complicated requirements of the regulations that govern Illinois workers’ compensation laws can be daunting and confusing to both business owners and employees alike. In the last six years alone increasing numbers of Illinois employers have been prosecuted and pled guilty to Class 4 felonies for refusing to provide workers’ compensation for employees.

workers' compensation actRecent Illinois Workers’ Compensation Suits

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (“IWCC”) Insurance Compliance Unit has been upping the stakes for those Illinois employers who refuse to comply with the federal and state requirements that they obtain workers’ compensation insurance. Numerous local employers throughout Illinois have pled guilty to Class 4 felonies, after years of opportunities to cure their lack of workers’ compensation insurance. Fines for these offenses have ranged from upwards of $10,000.00 for one local Chicago resident who refused to obtain insurance after two years of repeated citations from the IWCC.

The Workers’ Compensation Law

820 ILCS 305, Workers’ Compensation Act requires Illinois employers to obtain workers’ compensation insurance for an estimated 91 percent of all Illinois employees. The only business owners exempt from the Act include corporate officers, sole proprietors, and limited liabilities companies. Those Illinois business owners who plead guilty to violating the Act by not obtaining workers’ compensation insurance can be fined $500 for each day of noncompliance with the Act. In recent years, the IWCC has more vigorously pursued violators. Since 2007, over $7 million dollars in fines has been collected from local Illinois employers who have violated the Act. Avoiding these colossal fines should be relatively simple for those local business owners who have or obtain a good grasp over the Act and its specific requirements for Illinois business owners.

Local Illinois business owners will increasingly have to be aware of the laws and requirements governing their obligation to provide workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. The workers’ compensation attorneys here at the Law Offices of Francis J Discipio in Chicago, IL, are standing by, ready and willing to answer any questions you may have concerning both federal and local employment and workers’ compensation law and how they affect your businesses’ legal obligations.

Claimant Awarded Disability Benefits

December 23rd, 2013 at 8:59 am

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC) awarded permanent disability benefits in November to a worker who injured his ankle at work, according to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Law Bulletin. The case established that even if a claimant can maintain the same job title after sustaining the injury, he may be eligible for workers’ compensation if the nature of the work has changed. If the claimant, that is, is unable to perform the work at the same speed or with the same ease as he could before the injury, he may be eligible for workers’ compensation even if he is able at the same time to keep the position. Claimant Awarded Disability Benefits

According to the Illinois Worker’s Compensation Commission Law Bulletin, “where the claimant’s job duties require post-injury modification, and he performs his duties at a much slower pace and is less productive than before his work injury, the claimant has suffered a deviation from his usual and customary line of employment.” If it can be established that the usual and customary line of employment has been altered by the injury, the claimant is eligible for workers’ compensation, as in this case.

Sherwood v. Ineos Nova LLC was initiated after a 2008 incident in which the claimant was climbing an icy tank. The claimant worked as a reliability technician, and “his duties included maintenance of the computer systems and equipment at the plant.” When he slipped climbing the icy tank, the claimant “fell down a long set of stairs,” shattering his left ankle. In early 2009, the claimant underwent surgery and physical therapy, and in March of that year returned to work.

Although the claimant’s job duties were in fact modified to fit his new restrictions, the IWCC awarded him workers’ compensation because “his age, profession, education, physical restrictions, and nature of the injury make it highly unlikely that the claimant could obtain a position elsewhere in his chosen profession.”

The ruling is important because it sets a precedent that even in cases in which the employer correctly and sufficiently modifies a job description to fit restrictions of an injured worker, the worker could still be eligible for compensation. If you or someone you know is seeking disability benefits, the most important first step is to seek the counsel of an attorney. Contact the Law Offices of Francis J. Discipio today.

Workplace Injuries: Study Shows Lack in Resources for Injured Surgeons

December 13th, 2013 at 12:35 pm

A Vanderbilt University Medical Center study shows that nearly half of surgeons sustain injuries during their career. According to the study in The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, an inadequate amount of resources are available to surgeons who suffer a workplace injury.

surgeon hand injury imageThe study’s lead author, Manish Sethi, M.D., noted that twenty-five percent of orthopedic surgeons surveyed reported an injury to the hand. Injuries of the lower back, neck and shoulder were also reported. Sethi stated, “I expected a fair number of back and hand injuries, but I was surprised that 38 percent of injured respondents reported no institutional resources available to support them as they recovered. In addition, only about 25 percent of respondents said they had reported their injury to their institution.” It was also noted that implementing greater institutional support is essential to aid surgeons recovering from occupational injuries and to “reduce costs associated with lost productivity from the surgeon.”

“Some of these injuries were significant, having an impact on operating room performance and causing the surgeon to lose three or four weeks of work,” Sethi said. “These results would suggest that we need to think about the resources available to orthopedic surgeons, given that this volume of missed work may have economic implications for both the surgeons and their health care systems.”

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission Handbook states that after receiving notification of a workplace injury, employers should provide immediate and necessary first aide and medical services, and also inform the insurance carrier or workers’ compensation administrator. If the injury prevents the employee from working for more than three days, the employer must begin payments of TTD, provide the employee with a written explanation of additional information needed before payments can begin, or provide a written explanation of why benefits are being denied.

If you sustained a workplace injury, it is essential you report it to your employer as you may be eligible for worker’s compensation. Contact a Chicago workplace injury attorney today, who can help you get the compensation you deserve.

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