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Workers' Compensation Hearings for Auto Workers

Chicago Lawyers for Employees Hurt On the Job

Auto workers who are injured on the job can pursue workers’ compensation benefits. Unlike obtaining damages in a personal injury lawsuit, which is filed in court, the process of obtaining workers’ compensation benefits involves going through an administrative claims process. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission administers this process, which includes hearings. If you are concerned about workers’ compensation hearings for auto workers, we may be able to help. At Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck and Bertuca, our skilled Chicago workers’ compensation attorneys are prepared to review your case and help you through the procedural aspects of pursing your claim.

Workers’ Compensation Hearings for Auto Workers

Following a work injury, you can file a claim for benefits by filling out an Application for Adjustment of Claim with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. You need to file your application within three years of your auto industry workplace injury. You may already be receiving benefits, but it is still wise to file the Application for Adjustment of Claim. If your employer’s insurer has paid some benefits but then stops, you have two years from the date of the last compensation payment to file.

You can petition for an immediate hearing if you are unable to go back to work at the auto manufacturing plant or other workplace, and you aren’t receiving temporary total disability benefits or medical benefits from your employer’s insurer. Prior to the actual hearing, your employer may ask you to go through an independent medical exam (IME) with a doctor of its choosing. Notwithstanding the name “independent medical exam,” doctors who conduct IMEs are often chosen by insurers because they are conservative and have made findings that resulted in workers’ compensation claim denials in the past. In order to obtain benefits, you must attend the IME if asked by the insurer, but it is wise to consult an attorney prior to attendance; you shouldn’t assume that the doctor conducting the IME is on your side.

If there is no petition for immediate hearing, the claim will be assigned to an arbitrator and a hearing site. Status hearings are scheduled for every 60 days. You and your employer only need to appear on the status hearing date if one of you is asking for a trial, or asking an arbitrator to resolve the claim. Otherwise, your attorney can appear on your behalf.

Status hearings occur periodically over the three years after the Application for Adjustment of Claim is filed. At a status hearing, the arbitrator hears whether there’s progress on a claim or if it should be continued until the next status date.

When a dispute arises on a claim — such as a reduction in benefits or a denial or cessation of them — you can ask for a 19(b) hearing. This is an expedited process. You and your attorney should both be present at the hearing. It may be possible to settle the claim if you are at maximum medical improvement, which signifies that both your treatment and recovery are complete, even though you are still not functioning fully. However, if a settlement can’t be reached, the case may go to trial before an arbitrator. In that situation, the case will be put on the workers’ compensation docket in the city closest to where you were injured.

Trial Before an Arbitrator

Your case won’t be decided by an arbitrator on the same day that it’s heard. Rather, each party submits a proposed decision with recommendations on how the arbitrator should decide the issues. The arbitrator reviews notes and medical records, and writes a decision with factual findings and conclusions of law. It can take 30 days to four months for the arbitrator to reach a decision. If either of the parties is unhappy with the decision, they can petition for review to have oral arguments before a panel of three Commissioners at the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. A petition for review needs to be filed within 30 days of when the decision is issued. The transcript of the trial will be used in determining the outcome of the petition for review, so it is advisable to retain legal counsel to handle even your early workers’ compensation hearings, and certainly the trial itself.

Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorneys in Chicago

If you have questions about workers’ compensation hearings for auto workers, we can potentially assist you. At Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck and Bertuca, our Chicago lawyers represent injured auto workers in Aurora, Quincy, Champaign, and Rockford, along with Kane, Adams, Sangamon, Winnebago, and Cook Counties. We can look at your circumstances to determine whether relief outside of the workers’ compensation system is appropriate as well. Contact us at 312-263-6330 or 800-444-1525, or via our online form.