One of the first questions new clients ask us is “how do I get my Illinois workers’ comp case resolved quickly?” You have likely heard horror stories about Illinois workers’ comp cases lasting well over a year. Many workers’ comp attorneys attribute such delays to busy court dockets. And yet, what they are not telling their clients, is that there is another way to expeditiously resolve cases. Known as a 19(b) Petition under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, this method requires far more upfront work and diligence on the part of the attorney.
Most Illinois workers’ comp attorneys are simply not willing to go that extra yard for their clients. At The Romaker Law Firm, however, we place our clients’ interests first. We have successfully filed many 19(b) Petitions on behalf of our clients, bringing quick resolutions to their Illinois workers’ comp cases.
What is a 19(b) Petition?
A 19(b) Petition under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act is a formal request for an immediate hearing before an Arbitrator. Generally, a 19(b) Petition is filed where the claimant is not receiving medical, surgical or hospital services. More specifically, a 19(b) Petition may seek a limited ruling on one or more of the following issues:
- Medical bill payment
- Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefits
- Casual connection or whether the accident was work related
- Statutory notice
By filing the 19(b) Petition, the claimant is seeking immediate relief from the Arbitrator in order to resolve the above issues and/or start receiving benefits.
How do I file a 19(b) Petition?
Either the claimant or his or her attorney may file a 19(b) Petition. The Petition requires detailed information and for this reason many Illinois workers’ comp attorneys are unwilling to file a 19(b) Petition or go to trial on one. At a minimum, the Petition must include:
- The date, time and location of where the accident occurred
- A description of the accident and injury
- The person to whom the injury was reported and the date it was reported
- The names and addresses of any witnesses
- A statement that the employer has refused to pay compensation
- Detailed medical records including treatment dates and providers
- A signed report from a medical practitioner regarding the claimant’s inability to return to work
- Copies of relevant medical records and reports
The Petition and supporting documentation must be filed with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission and a copy must be served on your employer. In order to schedule the Petition for a hearing, you will be required to complete and file a Notice of Motion and Order. As a general matter, the date of your next status hearing can be used as a hearing date. However, if your next status hearing will not allow enough time to provide your employer with 15 days notice, you will need to select another hearing date.
Finally, in addition to the foregoing documents, you will also need to file a copy of your completed Application for Adjustment of Claim. The Application is the document that you file with the Workers’ Compensation Commission in order to commence your case. Note that the Application must be (or have been) filed within three years of the date of your injury.
What happens after my 19(b) Petition has been filed?
Once you have filed and served your 19(b) Petition and accompanying documents on your employer, your employer will have 15 days to file a response. At this point, your workers’ comp attorney will have some work to do. For this reason, many workers’ comp lawyers are either unwilling to file a 19(b) Petition, or if they do, they fail to proceed to trial. A 19(b) Petition is unique in that it essentially requires the employee and his or her counsel to provide discovery upfront. In a standard case, counsel may have many months, or even years, to put together exhibits and depose witnesses.
Documents that your counsel will be required to provide to the opposing counsel could include any of the following:
- A complete list of witnesses to be called
- Copies of all exhibits to be introduced as evidence
- Complete copies of medical records
Moreover, it is very likely that your counsel will be required to take a deposition of your doctor and/or any doctor that conducted an independent medical evaluation. Once your employer receives a copy of the Petition, it will also be required to do a substantial amount of work. Your employer’s counsel will be required to outline its entire defense to be relied upon at trial. Failing to abide by the discovery requirements for 19(b) Petition’s as set forth in the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act can result in the exclusion of important exhibits and other evidence.
At the hearing the Arbitrator assigned to your case will enter a written decision either approving or denying the payment of benefits.
What are the advantages of filing a 19(b) Petition?
There are several advantages to filing a 19(b) Petition. If you have been denied benefits and are unable to work due to your injury, a substantial amount of time may pass in which you are left with no income. In addition, your medical bills may continue to accumulate, placing you further into debt. A 19(b) Petition can greatly expedite your case. While Arbitrators are supposed to resolve cases within 60 days, the reality is that many cases stay open for far longer, sometimes over a year or more.
Another major advantage is that a 19(b) Petition puts substantial pressure on the other side. As mentioned above, your employer’s counsel will be required to plan and detail its entire case before trial. Arbitrators do not like them either. They put pressure on Arbitrators to write a quick decision. As a result, Arbitrators may pressure defense counsel to quickly settle the matter by paying benefits.
We recently won a substantial award on behalf of a client using a 19(b) Petition. The case was complicated since it involved a second injury that occurred on a separate date. The client injured his lower back and was unable to work. We were able to consolidate both of his cases and schedule them for trial by filing a 19(b) Petition. Our client received an award of $200k for his injuries. Had we not proceeded through a 19(b) Petition it is likely that the cases would have stayed open for a long period of time during which our client would have received no benefits.
If you are wondering “how do I get my Illinois workers’ comp case resolved quickly,” then contact The Romaker Law Firm today. We are willing to go the extra mile for our clients, doing everything possible to bring a quick resolution to your case and to maximize your recovery.