Equitable, Nonpartisan and Impactful Illinois Workers’ Compensation Reform
Enacting impactful workers’ compensation reform will take leaders with the courage to reach across the aisle and do what is right for Illinois. There are practical solutions that will benefit all stakeholders and lower premiums.
Nationally, Illinois ranks among the states with the lowest job growth. In 2014, Illinois had a net loss of 95,000 people to other states, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Among the issues that hamper job creation in the state and disincentivize growth is the high cost of workers’ compensation insurance. Illinois was named the No. 7 costliest workers’ comp state in the 2014 Oregon Workers’ Compensation Premium Rate Ranking Summary.
The manner by which Illinois handles causation is one of the reasons for Illinois’ high workers’ compensation premiums. Causation refers to the threshold at which a worker’s injuries are covered by the workers’ compensation system, and the rules surrounding the extent of coverage. The causation standard in Illinois is currently at 1%, which means that employers must pay in full if the workplace is responsible for the injury in any way. It therefore remains sufficient for an employee to show the employment was a cause of the injury in order to recover benefits under workers’ compensation.
If a work injury aggravates or accelerates a pre-existing condition even slightly, the employer is responsible for 100% of the workers’ compensation claim. Twenty-nine states have higher causation standards than Illinois.
• Amend the law and charge arbitrators with apportioning damages and compensating injured workers to the extent a work-related accident caused their injuries. If an arbitrator determines 20% of an injury was caused at work and the remaining condition was caused by other factors, a petitioner would collect 20% of the award for damages. If an arbitrator determines that an injury was 80% attributed to a work injury, and 20% to other factors, an employee would recover 80% of the damages award.
This nonpartisan and practical proposal is gaining the support of diverse stakeholders. This is the time for real reform that is fair and lowers workers’ compensation premiums.
Coalition for Workers’ Compensation Reform
The Small Business Advocacy Council * Federation of Women Contractors * Alliance for Illinois Manufacturing * North Business & Industrial Council * Hispanic American Contractors Association * NARI Chicagoland
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