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Synopsis: Pancake House Fall Down Denied by IL Appellate Court. Editor’s comment: In a mildly surprising but legally well-founded ruling, a unanimous ruling from the IL Appellate Court, WC Division considered facts about a worker who suffered somewhat severe injuries prior to getting to work. In Walker Brothers, Inc. v. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Comm’n, (issued September 13, 2019), the IL WC Commission awarded Claimant medical, temporary total disability (TTD), and permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits. Claimant was seriously injured when he had parked his car and was walking, heading to work, and fell on ice in a retail store parking lot…
Synopsis: Gene Keefe and Matt Ignoffo on Dealing With Marijuana/THC in the Workplace for Illinois and Other States. Part 1; Part 2 Next week.   Editor’s comment: Gene and Matt have developed a great presentation for your managers or the OccHealth Department of any hospital. If you are interested in a presentation and/or webinar, send a reply.   Here are the salient points on Marijuana in the Workplace. First   Understand the laws on Marijuana/THC and prescription medications that are specific to your State;   Adopt a pre-duty prescription medication and impairing substances safety policy;   Update job descriptions;  …
Synopsis: Shocking IL Appellate Ruling That Might Set the Trucking Risk and HR Industry on Its Ear When Your Rigs Cross Anywhere Near the Nutty Land O’ Lincoln!! This $54M verdict is an IL Auto Claim Record. Plaintiffs James Denton and his wife, Theresa, of Oak Lawn, sued David L. Johnson, the truck driver, and Universal Am-Can Ltd., Universal Truckload Services Inc. and Louis Broadwell LLC, Johnson’s employers, in 2015, alleging Johnson was negligent when he failed to slow down to avoid a crash as traffic unexpectedly changed. As you will read, the verdict didn’t really come from a bad-driving claim—it…
Synopsis: Will “Dynamex” Come to Illinois and Other States Soon? I consider this required reading for HR, Risk and WC claims handlers.   Editor’s comment: I truly feel my readers need to know of this “Left Coast” mess because we have no way to stop the concept in Illinois if the super-majorities in our State Senate and House want to bring it here. Our wildly liberal Governor is almost certain to sign off on it. I doubt our surrounding States will have any interest in it but you never know.   Please also note the Dynamex concept has been codified…
Synopsis: IL Risk/HR Managers Have to Catch Up to New Salary History “Gotcha” Law.   Editor’s comment: The reason I call this a “Gotcha” law is the defenses are basically stripped away to expand reserves/exposures. The mistakes that may cost your company thousands in awards and opposing counsel’s attorneys fees which could become common. The mistakes could be innocent. You have less than three weeks to insure personnel folks in the hiring part of your company know what they have to do and NOT do.   Please note Brad Smith, J.D. is our top employment law defense attorney/partner and can…
Synopsis: Here are “Brown Bag Luncheon” IL WC Claims Analyzed by the Bi-Partisan WLCA Editors’ for your consideration. I give strong credit to the WCLA team that created this analyses for public consumption.   Editor’s comment: Your Editor is adding my “defense-only” comments. I admit to being somewhat biased because, well, I am. Please take my opinions with at least a grain or three of salt. I sometimes think I am perfect to find out, Ooops.   Employer-Employee: Coleman v. AKMG, 18 I.W.C.C. 703 (IWCC November 16, 2018)   At Arbitration, the primary issue was whether Petitioner was an employee…
Synopsis: IL Governor JB Pritzker Continues “John Hancocking” New Laws at Record Pace—KCB&A’s Top Employment Lawyer, Brad Smith Wants To Keep You Ahead of Him and Them!   Editor’s comment: As Summer begins its descent into Autumn, new IL laws keep on, keepin’ on. Recently, Governor Pritzker signed sweeping changes to the Illinois legal landscape. Some of these laws directly affect Illinois employers, HR folks and risk managers, so pay close attention. Most of them do not take effect immediately, but they’ll be here shortly.   Work Place Transparency Act   One of those laws is the Illinois Workplace Transparency…
Synopsis: Petitioner’s/Plaintiff Counsel in an IL WC Claim I Am Adjusting Wants My File—Do I Have To Give It To Them? Editor’s comment: We had a great client who is a claims adjuster receive an opening “hello” email from the other side’s attorney. The attorney nicely asked for all sorts of stuff in the file, including incident/accident reports, witness statements and wage documents. The adjuster inquired as to whether to respond and provide all that documentation.   My response was simple—you can produce/share whatever you want. You don’t have to because there is limited “discovery” in IL workers comp. I…
Synopsis: The Six Ways to Close an Illinois (and many State and Federal) Workers’ Compensation Claims.   Editor’s comment: We keep having clients ask so we wanted to provide our expert legal guidance on this important topic for all sides of the matrix. When the defense team at KCB&A speak at local, regional and national conferences, we are routinely advised the cool thing about IL WC is a claims handler or risk manager can actually “close” files if you do things correctly. In our neighboring states, many systems don’t allow for “complete” closure and little annoying things can happen to…
Synopsis: AUGUST IN IL—BENEFIT RATES RISE WITH THE HUMIDITY??—UPDATED RATE SHEETS AVAILABLE SOON FOR ILLINOIS WC RATE INCREASE!!!    Editor’s comment: Illinois WC Rates Have Updated Again So Please Be Aware Of The New Rates or Your Claims Handling Will Suffer and Penalties May Ensue.   Email Marissa at mpatel@keefe-law.com to Get a Free and Complimentary Email or Hard Copy of Shawn R. Biery’s Updated IL WC Rate-Sheet! You can also send any questions to Shawn at sbiery@keefe-law.com   We note that the recent legislation to increase the statewide minimum wage eventually to $15/hr will lead to the continued rate…
Synopsis: Take A Leap: Is Jumping Off a Truck Dock Compensable in Illinois WC or Your State? An in-depth look at the Benson case by Nathan Bernard, J.D. Editor’s comment: First, KCBA and defense attorney Nathan S. Bernard, handled this claim at all levels of litigation from the arbitration hearing to a panel of three commissioners at the IWCC then before a circuit court judge and finally briefs and oral arguments before the five esteemed justices at the Illinois Appellate Court. At all levels, it was unanimously held the claim was denied with zero workers’ compensation benefits awarded. Second, credit…
Synopsis: When Is a Loss Covered by the IL WC Act?   Editor’s comment: The first thing an attorney, risk manager or adjuster must do when a new claim has been made is to evaluate whether the loss is covered by Illinois workers’ compensation law versus the various federal acts, general liability, or some other common law or other statutory remedy. If so, the next inquiry is whether Illinois workers’ compensation law applies versus the law of some other state or the federal system. Finally, if the case is properly an Illinois workers’ compensation claim, the adjuster must determine whether…
Synopsis: Illinois WC Death Claim Bungled and Employer Penalized.   Editor’s comment: Please consider asking the defense team at KCB&A or me about any IL/IN/WI/IA or MI death claim/concern you might have. I have handled dozens of such significant claims and I know the ropes backward and forward. Getting a newbie defense attorney to handle these multimillion dollars risks who doesn’t know the ropes can cost thousands of unneeded claims dollars. If you aren’t sure, my law partner Shawn Biery’s IL WC Rate Chart outlines most IL WC Death claims are worth $700K+ to a widow/widower and can be over…
Synopsis: Understanding the HIPAA Battlefield in Work Comp. Editor’s comment: I read a great blog from a Chicago-area Claimant attorney on what he asserts are the rights and rules relating to HIPAA in WC claims. To paraphrase, he indicates under workers’ compensation law, your employer or their insurance company has a “right” to medical records related to your injury. As a result, it’s very common after a worker gets hurt for them to get a letter that asks the worker to sign [and return] a “medical release form” that authorizes them to have access to your medical records. The blogger…
Synopsis: Holy Smokes—IL Appellate Court Rules FELA Damages for Lost Wages Are Now Taxable Income!!! Will WC Benefits/Settlements Follow?   Editor’s comment: In Munoz v. Norfolk Southern Railway Co, No. 1-17-1009, issued June 28, 2019, the Appellate Court of Illinois, First District considered a claim by a railroad freight conductor claiming negligence for injuries during his work at a RR conductor. A jury awarded him $821,000, including $310,000 for past and future lost wages. After the verdict, Norfolk moved for a setoff, claiming Munoz owed taxes on the lost wages under the Railroad Retirement Tax Act (RRTA) (I.R.C. § 3201…
Synopsis: Good News and Bad News for the IL Work Comp Community.   Editor’s comment: Both the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago are in the news and it is certain to be notable for all of my readers. I hate to start with the bad news but we are all grown ups and have to deal with all of it.   Starting in a week on July 1, 2019, our IL gas tax will double, driving the cost of a tank of gas up 19 cents a gallon. This money is supposedly ear-marked for “capital improvements” of…