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New Legislation may Change Worker's Comp Payments

Posted on in Personal Injury
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According to an article recently published by the Rockford Register Star, this spring lawmakers in Illinois will consider newly introduced legislation regarding liability in the state's worker's compensation laws. Specifically, the proposed legislation seeks to point out which party is responsible for injuries an employee may suffer in a traffic accident while traveling to work.

Senator Kyle McCarter, a Republican from Lebanon, is the one who proposed the law, which would serve to exempt the employer from being responsible for their employee's hospital bills and other costs associated with an injury sustained in a car accident if the employee is not traveling specifically for work purposes. His reasoning is that if the employer is not to blame for the accident, he or she should not have to pay for the associated damages. The legislation specifies that an employee who is injured is allowed to receive compensation only if they suffered an injury that occurs during and in the course of their employment, and while the worker is actively carrying out duties of their employment.

The suggested change in the worker's compensation law in Illinois coincides with a decision recently made by the Supreme Court. That case involved a worker from Springfield who took a temporary job working for a power plant in Rock Island County. The worker decided to rent a hotel room while working for the company, as he would otherwise have a 200-mile commute to his place of employment. As he was traveling to work one day with a co-worker, the vehicle slid on ice and crashed. The worker sustained severe injuries and a dispute ensued over payment for his injuries. As a result, the Illinois Worker's Compensation Commission decided that the worker would be compensated by his employer.

The Supreme Court's decision reversing the Illinois Worker's Compensation Commission's decision came down in December. They reasoned that the worker made a personal decision to take the position despite his knowledge of the commute that would be involved, and therefore they did not consider him to be traveling for work at the time he was injured in the crash.

While the subject matter of both the case and the proposed legislation are strikingly similar, it is interesting to note that the new law was actually proposed in November of 2013, before the Supreme Court decision was made known.

While this new legislation has several steps to go through before the law could potentially take effect in Illinois, it would be a significant change in the personal injury law in the state. An experienced personal injury attorney is responsible for keeping informed of the changes in law, and will be able to advise you on the specific facts of your case. If you or someone you know has been injured while at work in Illinois, contact us today for a consultation.
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