Illinois' House of Representatives recently voted in favor of proposed changes to the state's Workers' Compensation Act designed to help injured workers, according to supporters of the proposed law and Chicago workplace accident attorney Ben Crane of Coplan & Crane, a Chicago-based law firm.
"The bottom line is these proposed changes would greatly benefit people injured on the job in Illinois who simply want to be fairly compensated for their workplace injury," Crane said. "If someone is injured, and that prevents them from being able to work and earn a livelihood, that person should be able to obtain the money they need to continue to live their lives with dignity."
Illinois' House of Representatives voted 63-39 on June 4 in favor of House Bill 1287, according to several news reports about the proposed amendments to the Act. (Chicago Sun Times, "House Democrats approve workers' comp changes; Rauner cries politics," June 4, 2015) The bill has since been referred to the state Senate, which referred HB-1287 to the Senate's Assignments committee, according to the Illinois General Assembly's website, which was last updated June 26.
If approved and signed into law by Gov. Bruce Rauner, HB-1287 would enact some of the following changes to Illinois' Workers' Compensation Act starting in June 2016, according to the Chicago Sun Times and other news outlets: (My Suburban Life, "Illinois House passes workers' compensation bill," June 8, 2015)
- Would change definition of what causes a workplace injury in which an employee is eligible to receive workers' compensation.
- Would allow insurers to sue previous employers for repetitive stress injuries in order to recover some of the costs.
- Verify that injury occurred at work caused by activities related to employment.
- Improved safety programs designed to make workplaces safer.
- Recalculations of premiums.
- Waiver of the self-insurers fee.
Many Illinois Republicans and Gov. Rauner oppose the proposed changes to the state's Workers' Compensation Law, particularly when it comes to the cause of an injury. According to the Madison-St. Clair Record, Gov. Rauner wants to change the causation standard in Illinois. Currently, employees in Illinois can receive compensation for a pre-existing condition "that may have been aggravated or accelerated by employment." Rauner wants to change "the state's causation standard from an "any cause" standard to a "major contributing cause" standard," the Madison-St. Clair Record reported. (Madison-St. Clair Record, "Can workers' compensation reforms keep Illinois competitive?," June 1, 2015)
Attorney Gregory F. Coplan hopes HB-1287 prevails, and strengthens the rights of injured workers in Illinois. "People work hard in Illinois and deserve to be compensated for injuries incurred on the job, plain and simple," Coplan said. "At our law firm, we know first-hand how devastating workplace injuries can be, and the effect they can have on families. Without being compensated fairly for an injury at work, injured workers and their families often face financial ruin. This proposed bill will take steps to further protect the rights of injured workers in Illinois."