Illinois Courts Undermining Workers’ Compensation Reform Efforts
Illinois Chamber Study Says Changes Needed in 2014 Legislative Session
CHICAGO – Illinois’ high workers’ compensation costs continue to be a major contributor to the state’s economic woes and – according to a new study released today by the Illinois Chamber of Commerce – the state’s judiciary is partly to blame.
“Rulings by the Illinois Appellate and Supreme Courts over the last decade have expanded employer liability far beyond what was intended by state law,” said Doug Whitley, Illinois Chamber president and CEO.
“The General Assembly must pass clearer guidelines in 2014 to stop Illinois’ higher courts from further undermining legislative efforts to lower employer costs and improve the workers’ compensation system,” Whitley said. “The high costs associated with the state’s current system continue to poison the business climate and hurt Illinois’ ability to compete with other states for employers’ investments and jobs.”
The report –The Impact of Judicial Activism in Illinois: Workers’ Compensation Rulings from the Employer’s Perspective – highlights 19 prominent cases in which higher court judges engaged in practices such as mixing and matching rules, exploiting vague statutory language and even creating new concepts that have no statutory basis.
According to Whitley, the General Assembly must enact new provisions to prevent such judicial overreach and achieve meaningful reform in 2014, including:
- Require an employee’s condition to be causally connected to an accidental workplace injury in order to obtain benefits under the Workers’ Compensation Act.
- Better define a “traveling employee” so employers are not held responsible for injuries sustained while workers are commuting or engaged in personal activities.
- Allow awards for “person as a whole” injuries to be offset by employer credits if the employee’s injury is to the same body part as a prior workplace injury.
The report – authored by attorney and former Illinois House Minority staff member Kathy Bruns in collaboration with Illinois Chamber members and staff – was officially released today at the Chamber’s Annual Workers’ Compensation Conference at the Lisle Hilton.
The report is available online at:
http://ilchamber.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/1WorkersComp.pdf. Hard copies are available upon request.
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The Illinois Chamber of Commerce promotes the interests of Illinois business by working to improve the state’s business climate. The Illinois Chamber aggressively advocates for legislation and public policies that support economic growth, and is a source of timely and reliable information on matters important to its members, Illinois employers and the general public. The Illinois Chamber also provides effective programs and services to its members to meet their business needs, including immediate answers to tax and human resources concerns and access to compliance seminars and publications. www.ilchamber.org