Posted On: December 22, 2010

Independent Insurance Agents Want Illinois Workers’ Compensation Reforms Passed

In Illinois, independent insurance agents are calling on state lawmakers to push through workers’ compensation reforms before a new General Assembly is sworn in. In a message to lawmakers, Independent Insurance Agents of Illinois Todd Hendricks wants lawmakers to reduce coverage costs.

According to the Oregon Department of Commerce and Business Services’s recent study, Illinois workers’ compensation costs rank number three among the highest in the country. Hendricks says these costs are continuing to go up. Aside from business costs, rates have also gone up dramatically in the involuntary assigned risk market. For example, local volunteer fire departments are having to pay higher rates for volunteer firefighters’ workers’ compensation premiums. Although there were reforms in 2005 that updated benefit levels, IIAI now believes that it is time for more upgrades to the system.

Illinois Workers’ Compensation
If you are a worker who has been injured on the job, you very likely may be entitled to obtain Illinois workers’ compensation benefits, which should cover your medical expenses and related costs. Many people are not aware that they have a right to obtain work injury benefits. Some may opt to delay filing a claim thinking that there is no need to hurry.

The sooner your file your work injury claim, the faster you can start receiving your payments. An experienced Chicago workers’ compensation lawyer can make sure that you are receiving everything you are owed and that your illness or injuries warrant.

Illinois Agents Call for Quick Action on Workers' Compensation Reform, Insurance Journal, December 17, 2010

Workers comp committee discusses need for reform, Daily Republican News, December 17, 2010


Related Web Resources:
Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission

Independent Insurance Agents of Illinois

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Posted On: December 15, 2010

Over $1.5M in Illinois Workers’ Compensation Paid to Correctional Guards for Repetitive Strain Injuries

According to the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission, since January 2009, guards at the Menard Correctional Center have been paid more than $1.5 million in workers’ compensation benefits for repetitive injuries to the elbow, wrist, and hand that they developed while on the job. Work injury settlements ranged from $21,860 to $119,184 and are based on the percentage of permanent loss of arm and hand functions. Guards and other employees that had to miss work last year because of their repetitive trauma or while recuperating from corrective surgery were paid over $195,000 in salary.

Repetitive Trauma
Unfortunately, repetitive trauma is a common injury that afflicts many workers, including office workers, railroad workers, storeroom employees, meatpackers, assembly line employees, musicians, and others who must tend to tasks that require repetitive and/or constant movements. There are steps that employees can take to make your work environment more ergonomically friendly manner so that workers are protected from developing such painful, debilitating injuries that can cause permanent harm to the body.

55 Menard staff members —51 of them guards (that’s almost 1 out of every 10 correction officers at the maximum security facility)—filed Illinois workers’ compensation claims that cited repetitive trauma injuries. 30 of the cases are still pending. Guards have complained that their jobs have caused them to experience numbness in their arms and hands that have left them unable to perform non-stressful activities, such as tossing a football with their kids. Repetitive chores at the prison include performing “bar taps” to make sure that an inmate isn’t trying to saw out of a cell, the application and removal of handcuffs, “cranking” of a heavy wheel to open rows of cells, and the use of finger-long Folger Adam keys.

Menard employees filed another 27 Illinois workers’ compensation claims in 2009 for non-repetitive injuries, including slip and fall and injuries from heavy lifting. About a dozen cases have been approved.

Examples of Repetitive Trauma Injuries:
• Cubital tunnel syndrome
• Repetitive strain injuries
• Overuse syndrome
• Carpal tunnel syndrome

Menard guards get $1.5 million in workers' compensation, BND, December 12, 2010

Repetitive Strain Injuries

Related Web Resources:
Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission

Menard Correctional Center, Illinois Department of Corrections

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Posted On: December 7, 2010

Cook County Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Boeing Seeks Damages for Death of United Airlines Ramp Serviceman in Kuwait

The widow of John Bruce is suing Boeing Inc. and two other companies for his wrongful death. The Arlington Heights man, who was a United Airlines ramp serviceman, died last year during a fall accident while on the job at the Kuwait International Airport.

At the time of the work accident, Bruce was on a mobile belt loader and unloading cargo from a Boeing 747 for the US military. Bruce’s widow contends that the loader’s operator moved the belt without warning, which caused her husband to drop over 10 feet to the tarmac. He sustained serious brain injuries and died several days later.

In her Cook County wrongful death complaint, Cleopatra is accusing Boeing and manufacturer NMC-Wollard Inc. of allegedly failing to provide her husband with protective equipment. The Illinois civil lawsuit also accuses US governor CAV International Inc. of employing the loader operator, who was allegedly distracted and conversing with others when the work accident happened. Bruce’s widow is accusing CAV International of failing to adequately supervise and train its employees.

According to the family’s Chicago wrongful death lawyer, there are documents that show that Boeing and NMC/Wollard did not implement any fall protections that could have prevented Bruce’s fatal accident from happening. While CAV has cited a lack of jurisdiction as reason for not turning over information, the Bruce’s family’s attorney says that the companies, which are US companies, are subject to US laws.

Third Party Lawsuits
Although workers injured on the job generally cannot sue an employer, who will likely owe them Illinois workers’ compensation, third party Illinois injury claims and wrongful death lawsuits can be brought against others who may have contributed to causing the work injury or death. The sooner you file your work injury claim and explore your legal options the better.

Widow of Arlington Heights man files wrongful-death lawsuit against Boeing, Chicago Tribune, Boeing, December 6, 2010

Arlington Heights family sues over death in Kuwait, The Daily Herald, December 6, 2010


Related Web Resources:
Illinois Workers' Compensation Act (PDF)

The Boeing Company

NMC-Wollard Inc.

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Posted On: December 3, 2010

Woman Files Illinois Asbestos Lawsuit Over Father’s Wrongful Death

Othella Carper is suing Honeywell International over the exposure to asbestos her father experienced while working as a carpenter, welder, and pipefitter. Othella Carper is seeking a judgment of more than $150,000, compensatory damages of over $100,000, economic damages of more than $50,000, plus other relief, including punitive damages.

In her asbestos lawsuit over his Illinois wrongful death, Carper claims that her dad Paul Towell first became exposed to asbestos in the 1940’s. She is accusing Honeywell International and John Crane of causing her dad to develop mesothelioma because they allowed him to be exposed to products that contained asbestos. Carper contends that the defendants should been aware that the effects of asbestos were harmful. She says that they failed to exercise reasonable care to make sure that her dad stayed safe.

Carper says that because of the asbestos-related diseases that her dad suffered, Towell suffered great physical pain, incurred medical expenses, and suffered mental anguish. He also became unable to do his job, which caused him to lose large sums of money that he would otherwise have earned. Carper says that her dad’s wrongful death caused her to loss his companionship, services, and society.

Asbestos Exposure on the Job
Unfortunately, there are many workers that have fallen ill because they were exposed to asbestos fibers while in their work environments. Employees who are exposed to asbestos, and in some cases their families (because of fibers that may end up on the worker’s clothing or body), are at higher risk of developing asbestos-related illnesses that can prove debilitating and fatal. Serious heath issues from asbestos exposure have included:

• Lung cancer
• Asbestosis, which can cause massive scarring to the lungs and major breathing issues
• Mesothelioma
• Cancer of the throat
• Kidney cancer
• Cancer of the larynx
• Cancer of the esophagus

There are steps employers can take to protect workers from asbestos exposure.

Pipefitter files asbestos complaint in St. Clair County, The Record, November 30, 2010


Related Web Resources:
Asbestos, Environmental Protection Agency

Asbestos, United States Department of Labor

Asbestos, Chicago Workers Compensation Lawyer Blog

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