Synopsis: Illinois WC Rates Jump Again—even with the Chicago Tribune reporting that the most recent migration number puts Illinois 49th out of the nation’s 50 states on net migration loss, there was a jump in the Statewide AWW to $1,161.80 and Your existing PPD Reserves May Need To Be UPDATED RETROACTIVELY(!).
To any of our readers and/or fans, Send a Reply to Marissa at firstname.lastname@example.org to Get a Free Copy of Shawn R. Biery’s Updated IL WC Rate-Sheet!
Editor’s comment: There continues to be an upward trend of IL WC rates—even the ever steady statutory minimum rates are climbing. As mentioned before, twice every year, starting in the 1980’s, the IL WC Act provides a formula which effectively insures no matter how poor the IL economy is doing, your IL WC rates keep climbing.
We caution our readers to pay attention to the fact the IL WC statutory maximum PPD rate is now $836.69 (up from $813.87—a retroactive increase!! When it was published, this PPD Max rate changed retroactively from July 1, 2019 to present. If you reserved a claim based on the prior rate for the period from July 1 to right now, your reserves are wrong.
It also should be noted that for the first time since 2012, the statutory minimum TTD & PPD rates have been increased as of January 15, 2020. While the minimum is still the employee’s average weekly wage or the rate below, whichever is lower with the rate dependent on the number of dependents as follows:
Dependents Min TTD & PPD Rate
TTD MAX also rises. If you have a claim with a date of loss after July 2019 and a max PPD rate, you need to take a look and see if the new maximum PPD rate applies. The current TTD weekly maximum has risen to $1,549.07.
An IL worker has to make over $2,323.61 per week or $120,827.72 per year to hit the new IL WC maximum TTD rate.
The new IL WC minimum death or Total &Permanent Disability rate also went up. The IL WC minimum death benefit is 25 years of compensation or $580.90 per week x 52 weeks in a year x 25 years equaling a staggering $755,170.00! Yes, if Claimant makes $100 a week in a part-time job and dies in a work-related accident, the benefit is over $755K.
The new maximum IL WC death benefit is $1,549.07 times 52 weeks times 25 years or a lofty $2,013.791.00 plus burial benefits of $8K.
On top of this massive benefit, Illinois employers/governments have to contribute to a fund to pay COLA increases under the Rate Adjustment Fund that may double that already-high benefit, depending on the CPI.
The best way to make sense of all of this is to get Shawn Biery’s colorful, updated and easy-to-understand IL WC Rate Sheet.
If you want it, simply email Marissa at email@example.com and include your mailing address if you would like to be mailed a laminated copy & you can also copy Shawn at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions, and his great team will get a copy routed to you before rates rise again.
Shawn remains your go-to defense source on any issue relating to IL WC rates!
Synopsis: What Happens When an Injured IL Worker Dies of Unrelated Causes with a Pending IL WC Claim.
Editor’s comment: In short, ‘Estate of Petitioner’ is not a proper party. In short, once Claimant passes, an estate has to be opened and a personal rep named to continue the claim.
In Illinois State Treasurer v. Estate of Kormany, 2019 IL App. (1st) 180644WC, the Appellate Court vacated the judgment of the circuit court and remanded the case to require a personal representative of a deceased petitioner’s estate to be substituted as the proper party.
In April 2008, Claimant Kormany filed an application for adjustment of claim seeking benefits pursuant to the IL Workers’ Compensation Act for injuries allegedly sustained while working for A-Tech Stucco EIFS Company. In June 2009, the Circuit Court of Cook County found that A-Tech’s worker’s compensation insurance carrier had no duty to defend nor indemnify A-Tech against Kormany’s worker’s compensation claim because A-Tech had breached the insurance contract. Kormany subsequently amended his Application for Adjustment of Claim to name, as a party, the Illinois State Treasurer (“Treasurer”), as ex officio custodian of the Injured Workers’ Benefit Fund (“Fund”). After finding that Kormany’s claim was compensable, the Arbitrator awarded medical expenses and permanent partial disability benefits. In doing so, the arbitrator concluded that the Fund was liable for payment of the award because, although A-Tech had worker’s compensation insurance at the time of the accident, it “failed to provide coverage” within the meaning of the Act by breaching the insurance contract.
The arbitrator’s decision was affirmed by a majority of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (“Commission”), and the circuit court confirmed the Commission’s decision. Id. The treasurer timely appealed.
The Appellate Court observed in October 2014, prior to the arbitration hearing, Kormany died of causes unrelated to his worker’s compensation claim. The application for adjustment of claim was amended to substitute the “Estate of Kormany” as the Petitioner, however, there was no evidence in the records that a personal representative was appointed or substituted following Kormany’s death. The appellate court noted Illinois courts in the past have found that a plaintiff’s death suspended the court’s jurisdiction until the appointment of a proper party plaintiff. Therefore, the appellate court concluded Kormany’s death suspended the Commission’s jurisdiction over his claim until such time as a personal representative of his estate was properly appointed and substituted. Since this never happened, the appellate court found the Commission’s decision was premature and therefore improper. Id. As a result, the Commission’s decision and the judgment of the circuit court were vacated.
In coming to this conclusion, the appellate court disregarded the argument of counsel for the Estate of Kormany who suggested that, because the gross value of Kormany’s estate was less than $100,000.00, the claim could proceed under section 25-1 of the Probate Act of 1975, 755 ILCS 5/25-1 (West 2008). The appellate court noted that section 25-1 clearly permits distribution of an estate’s assets by means of a small-estate affidavit, however, this is separate and distinct from the requirement that a personal representative of the decedent’s estate must be appointed to prosecute a worker’s compensation claim that is pending and unresolved at the time of the employee’s death. The appellate court related this to when a plaintiff in a pending common law action dies. Id. Under such circumstances, a personal representative of the decedent plaintiff’s estate is appointed and substituted as a party.
Counsel should be mindful that, in a worker’s compensation case, substitution of a personal representative and payment of benefits is not determined by the code of civil procedure or the probate act. Rather, section 8(h) of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act provides:
In case death occurs from any cause before the total compensation to which the employee would have been entitled has been paid, then in case the employee leaves any widow, widower, child, parent (or any grandchild, grandparent or other lineal heir or any collateral heir dependent at the time of the accident upon the earnings of the employee to the extent of 50% or more of total dependency) such compensation shall be paid to the beneficiaries of the deceased employee and distributed as provided in paragraph (g) of Section 7.
Simply stated, in a worker’s compensation proceeding, where petitioner dies of causes unrelated to his worker’s compensation claim and compensation remains to be paid, substitution of a personal representative pursuant to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act is required, not the opening of a probate estate.
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