Monthly Archives: April 2009

Illinois Workers’ Compensation

Is workers’ compensation in Illinois a subject that interests you? If you live and work in Illinois, and if you have been injured on your job or become ill due to the nature of your job, workers’ compensation in Illinois probably holds great interest for you. You or a friend or loved one may be in a dispute with their employer regarding workers’ compensation benefits, right now.

If this is the case, remember what workers’ compensation is. Workers’ compensation is a kind of business insurance that is provided by your employer that gives you and/or your family benefits in the form of income, medical coverage and rehabilitation in the event that you suffer injury, illness or death as a result of, or in the course of, your job. This is true no matter who is at fault for your injury or illness.

If you were to lose your life on your job, these financial benefits can be given to your surviving spouse and/or children or dependents. These benefits come as a matter of “right” to you or your dependents or survivors. Your employer is not allowed to resort to any legal defense. In return for this, you cannot sue your employer, nor can your spouse and/or children or dependents.

Workers’ compensation laws came about so you would not have to prove that your injuries or illness was the “fault” of your employer. They were also established to reduce the need for litigation. Workers’ compensation laws were first passed in Maryland in 1902. The first federal workers’ compensation law came in 1906. By 1949, every state had passed some form of workers’ compensation law.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) ensures your safety and health on the job at the national level. State laws that vary from state to state complement the national regulations of OSHA.

This is not true regarding workers’ compensation. Each state has its own workers’ compensation laws because there in no national agency to administer workers’ compensation.

The Illinois Department of Labor administers the laws regarding employment and labor in the state. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission operates the state court system for workers’ compensation cases.

Illinois regards workers’ compensation as a no-fault system of benefits paid by employers to workers who experience job-related injuries or diseases. Workers’ compensation in Illinois is mandatory. Employers are required to provide workers’ compensation insurance. No waivers are permitted, but in some instances employers with two or less employees do not have to provide workers’ compensation coverage.

The first workers compensation act in Illinois was passed in 1912. Since that initial act was passed, workers’ compensation laws have been reformed and amended several times. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act was lasted amended in on August 21, 2007. Illinois also refers to workers’ compensation as ‘work comp’ and ‘on-the-job injuries’.

Again, it is important for you to keep in mind that workers’ compensation, with a few exceptions, is required of your employer. Your employer has the option to purchase workers’ compensation coverage from a licensed insurance company, be self-insured or be a part of group self-insurers who have pooled their liabilities.

There are good workers’ compensation benefits in Illinois. These benefits include:

  • Choice of physician – You are allowed to choose the first two doctors that you want to treat you. If you choose a third physician without your employer’s approval, your employer is not required to pay for those services.
  • Medical benefits – Your employer is required to pay for all medical care that is reasonably necessary to cure or relieve you from the effects of your injury.
  • Temporary total disability (TTD) benefits – These are benefits that are paid during the period in which you are either temporarily unable to return to work or you have been released by your doctor to do light-duty work but your employer is unable to accommodate you. The payment amount is based on a percentage of your average weekly wage. This is paid until you have returned to work or finished healing. There are caps on these temporary total disability benefits.
  • Temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits – These are benefits that are paid during the period in which you are healing and are working light duty, on a part-time or full-time basis and earning less than during your pre-injury job. Again, the amount is based on a percentage.
  • Vocational rehabilitation/maintenance benefits – These benefits include treatment, instruction and training necessary for your physical, mental and vocational rehabilitation when you cannot return to you pre-injury job.
  • Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) benefits – These are benefits that are paid if you experience some permanent physical loss. The amount is based on a percentage with caps.
  • Permanent Total Disability (PTD) benefits – These are benefits paid to you if you experience the loss of certain body parts, or you are permanently unable to do any kind of work for which there is a reasonably stable employment market. Amounts are again based on percentage with caps.
  • Death/Survivors’ benefits – These benefits are payable in the event of your death on the job to your surviving spouse and/or children or dependents. The amount is based on a percentage of your wages. There is also a burial benefit.
  • Limited attorney fees – Attorney fees are usually 20% of your settlement.

If you have a dispute with your employer over workers’ compensation benefits because of an injury or illness, your first step is to have your case tried by an arbitrator. The decision of the arbitrator can be reviewed by a panel of three commissioners from the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. Additional appeals can allow a workers’ compensation claim to go all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court. However, the vast majority of claims are not appealed after being reviewed by the commissioners.

Once again, you or a friend or loved one may be currently in a dispute regarding workers’ compensation benefits. You will probably need the help of a legal professional to settle this dispute because of the legal process involved.

The Illinois workers’ compensation attorney that you choose could make all the difference in the world.

Workplace Safety in California

Workplace safety in California is an issue that you should be interested in if you work in this state. You probably spend at least 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week or more in your California workplace. This may be the greatest reason why workplace safety in California is so vitally important.

The workplace has changed from what it was a generation ago. A manufacturer’s moving materials or production lines used to be the primary concern. This would take place in a shipping, receiving or storage area of a building. Repetitive action or motion was what businesses depended on to produce a product.

The workplace of today is far more than an assembly line. The workplace of today is not just stationary. It now involves the streets and highways that crisscross the United States.

This is certainly true in California. In California, your workplace can be in an office or a building, or it can also be on the streets and highways of this diverse state.

What is meant by a workplace in California? How is it defined? A workplace is by definition, “a place where commerce is conducted.” Your workplace is anywhere work is carried on. This means a motor vehicle, as well as a building or an office can be your workplace.

What, does workplace safety in California mean? It refers to the working environment at the place where you work. Workplace safety takes in all of the factors that impact your safety, health and well being while you work.

Workplace safety in California includes many things. It includes:

§  Workplace violence

§  Environmental hazards

§  Unsafe working conditions or processes,

§  Drug and alcohol.

Workplace safety is overseen at the national level by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The cornerstone of OSHA’s policies and regulations are seen in its three stated goals.

  • Change workplace culture to increase employer and worker awareness of, commitment to and involvement in safety and health
  • Improve the safety and health for all workers, as evidenced by fewer hazards, reduced exposures, and fewer injuries, illnesses and fatalities
  • Secure public confidence through excellence in the development and delivery of OSHA’s programs and services.

The federal guidelines of OSHA are complemented by state regulations in California. In California, the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) complements the federal guidelines of OSHA. The DIR’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, better known as Cal/OSHA, maintains and enforces safety and health standards in the workplace and performs outreach events for both employers and employees. They also provide safety publication material for workers, employees, parents, and other organizations.

In Texas, these regulations are aimed at promoting the health and safety of California workers in the workplace. California workplace regulations are aimed at providing California workers with a workplace that is free of all types of workplace or workplace-created toxic hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm.

Is workplace safety an important issue in California? What can be done to improve and enhance workplace safety? These are all important questions regarding workplace safety in California.

Workplace safety in California is an issue of vital importance. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only Texas had more workplace deaths than California. In 2006, the most recent year for which statistics are available, workplace deaths in California rose to over 500.

The importance of workplace safety in California can also be seen not only in the direct costs of illness and injury in the workplace, but also in the indirect costs of an accident that take into effect the sometimes immeasurable costs of lost efficiency and production on a company-wide basis. Some of these costs are:

  • Overtime to make up for loss of production
  • Wages for lost time of uninjured workers
  • Replacement or repair of damaged equipment or materials.
  • Training replacement workers.

Workplace safety in California is important because in order for you to do your job well, you need to feel comfortable and safe. Your production will be affected if you feel threatened, anxious, worried or unsafe in your California workplace.

Workplace safety in California is also important because it affects more than just the injured. Friends and family of the injured worker are also affected. A death or debilitating injury or in the workplace can have a devastating affect on family and friends.

The most important resource an employer has is human resource. The importance of workplace safety in California can also be seen in the loss of a worker either temporarily or permanently.

Given the overwhelming importance of workplace safety in California, what can be done to make the workplace safer in this state? What steps can be taken to make the workplace safer? Some steps that can be taken are:

  • Safety training programs need to be set up if they are not already in place
  • Safety goals need to be set up
  • Safety policies and procedures should be implemented
  • The formation of a safety committee
  • Workplace violence has to be dealt with and eliminated
  • An ongoing study and analysis of accidents should be implemented to see where the greatest risks and likelihood of accidents are so they can be prevented.

Workplace safety in California may affect you personally. You or a friend or loved one may have been injured at the workplace. You do not believe the company is doing what it is supposed to do.

What can you do? Where do you go for help? Who can you turn to?

You or your friend or loved one needs the help of a legal professional. You need the help of an attorney who knows and specializes in workers’ compensation law in California. You need a workers’ compensation attorney.