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Changes to workers' comp laws in Illinois could impact workers

Illinois employees should understand that if they get injured or sick on the job, they could be eligible for workers' compensation. This employer-paid insurance allows an injured worker to collect benefits while also protecting employers from legal action by the employee.

Though there are certainly exceptions, workers need only prove that an injury was suffered in relation to their employment in order to collect benefits. However, that could be changing now that Illinois lawmakers are considering proposals that would place a burden on employees to prove causation.

The proposed changes would make in necessary for an employee to prove a work accident contributed to more than 50 percent of a person's injury. Currently, a worker can be eligible for compensation even if an accident simply contributed to an injury and even if a condition was pre-existing. Under the new rules, that same worker may no longer qualify for benefits.

Lawmakers are considering this reform because of how Illinois compares to neighboring states in regards to workers' compensation costs. As it stands, Illinois has the seventh-highest cost of workers' compensation insurance for businesses in the country.

Higher insurance premiums mean more expenses. Reports indicate that payouts to Illinois workers can double the national average in some cases. This has evidently made other states more attractive to business owners looking to lower costs of operation.

Whether this proposal is passed or not will greatly impact workers in this state. If it is, workers will have the burden of proving a higher causation standard, meaning they will have to show that a work accident was a major contributor to an injury as opposed to a contributing factor.

It will be interesting to see if and how the workers' compensation may change in the future. In the meantime, workers who have suffered any injury or illness related to a work accident may want to act fast and discuss their options with an attorney.

Source: The Madison-St. Clair Record, "Can workers' compensation reforms keep Illinois competitive?" Amanda Robert, June 1, 2015

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