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Monday, May 20, 2013

Workers’ Compensation Act Bill Would Increase Costs for Local Governments

Senator Mulroe of Chicago recently introduced an amendment to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, which, if passed, will significantly alter the 2011 changes to the Act and result in higher costs for municipalities.

HB 3390 further modifies many of the changes made in the 2011 amendments to the Act. The most notable change would be to Section 8.1(b). The 2011 amendments provided that the use of the American Medical Association (AMA) impairment ratings is required to determine disability, and greater weight is assigned to the AMA rating factor. However, HB 3390 would allow the Commission to simply give the AMA rating the same weight it gives to other factors considered in is decision-making process.

HB 3390 would result in higher costs for local governments because it broadens the scope of penalties that could be awarded to a petitioner. HB 3390 allows for the payment of penalties for unreasonable delay in the authorization of medical treatment - the current Act, on the other hand, only allows penalties for a delay in payment of compensation and medical benefits. Additionally, local governments could incur higher costs because it proposes that the minimum interest to be accrued while a case is pending on appeal should be set at 3% plus the average quoted prime rate on short-term commercial loans in effect on the date of the Arbitration Decision. Currently, the Act sets the interest rate at the quoted prime rate on the date of the Arbitration Decision.

Other notable provisions of HB 3390 include a legislative response to the Illinois Appellate Court’s holding in Will County Forest Preserve District v. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, 2012 IL App 3d 110077WC, by providing that injuries to the shoulder are to be considered injuries to the arm, rather than to the person as a whole. Additionally, in the case of pro se petitions for a lump sum settlement, HB 3390 would require a determination of the petitioner’s ability to read and communicate in English.

HB 3390 passed in the House on April 16, 2013, and is set for a third reading in the Senate on May 15, 2013. We will follow the status of HB 3390 and update you regarding this bill and its effect on local governments.
Post Authored by Erin Baker, Ancel Glink


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