SUMMARY OF CURRENT SPRINGFIELD LEGISLATIVE ACTIVITY 

By: Cody D. Hartman - Associate - Nyhan, Bambrick Kinzie & Lowry

Updated: February 17, 2015

 

The The ISIA is currently tracking several bills proposed by Sen. Kyle McCarter (R-51st District) and Rep. Dwight Kay (R- 112th District) in the Illinois Senate and House pertaining to workers’ compensation law in Illinois. Most, if not all, of these bills address issues resulting from appellate court decisions, including “traveling employee”, temporary total disability, and calculation of average weekly wage. The proposed legislation is favorable to Illinois’ business community. We have provided a synopsis of the proposed bills. 


Senate Bill 770/House Bill 2418 & 2421
This bill addresses traveling employees. The traveling employee has recently been a hot-topic with the courts as noted in Appellate, and Illinois Supreme Court decision of Venture-Newberg-Perini v. Workers’ Comp. Comm’n, 2013 IL 115728.

The bill would amend the Workers’ Compensation Act to provide that an employee who is required to travel in connection with his or her employment and who suffers an injury while in travel status is eligible for benefits only if the injury arises out of and in the course of employment while he or she is actively engaged in the duties of employment.

Moreover, the bill would define “accident” and “injury”. It would provide that “injury” includes the aggravation of a pre-existing condition by an accident arising out of and in the course of the employment, but only for so long as the aggravation of the preexisting condition continues to be the major contributing cause of the disability in addition it would provide that an injury resulting directly or indirectly from idiopathic causes is not compensable.


Senate Bill 769/ House Bill 2419
This bill addresses “concurrent employment” as provided under Section 10 of the Act. The proposed bill would amend the Workers’ Compensation Act to provide for the computation of compensation when there are multiple employers and when there is less than full time work.


Senate Bill 772/ House Bill 2422
This bill would amend the Workers’ Compensation Act to add the definitions of “accident” and “injury”. The bill establishes the manner of computing compensation for partial disability and most notably includes a maximum cumulative compensation of 500 weeks.

Not only would claimants be able to collect a maximum total of 500 weeks of compensation, the bill also provides that injuries to the shoulder and hip are deemed to be injuries to the arm and leg respectively. This bill is in response to Will County Forest Pres. Dist. v. Ill. Workers' Comp. Comm'n, 2012 IL App (3d) 110077WCwhich held injuries to the shoulder are considered under the man as a whole provision, as opposed to a specific loss. After Will County, shoulder injuries are compensated under Section 8(d)2 of the Act, as opposed to the specific loss provision, Section 8(e). Although Will County’sfocus was a shoulder injury, Respondent’s bar has noticed an increase in 8(d)2 awards for hip injuries. This bill would preclude such calculations and would reinstate the original 8(e) recovery.


Senate Bill 771/ House Bill 2420
This bill provides that no employer shall be required to pay temporary partial disability benefits to an employee who has been discharged for cause. Claimants would be entitled to a hearing to reinstate benefits and retroactively restore benefits the employee was entitled to, should the Commission find the discharge without cause.

This likely is in response to Matuszczak v. Ill. Workers’ Comp. Comm’n (Walmart), 2014 IL App (2d) 130532WC where the Illinois Appellate Court for the 2nd District found Claimant entitled to temporary total disability benefits after claimant repeatedly stole from the Respondent/employer. 


What’s Next?
The proposed legislation is currently in the beginning phases of the legislative process.  The ISIA will continue to monitor these bills and other legislation in what is expected to be a very lively, robust legislative session. Governor Rauner’s State of the State address made clear that he is making workers’ compensation reform a priority, and we expect that there will be much more legislation presented from both the labor and employer side.

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