If you were injured on the job, a variety of benefits may be available to help you recover. You are entitled to benefits that pay for your reasonable and related medical care. You are also entitled to disability benefits while you recover from your injury and are temporarily unable to work. These benefits, known as temporary total disability benefits (TTD), should amount to 2/3 of your average weekly wage tax-free. You may also be entitled to vocational training if you must find a new occupation. If permanent impairments resulted from your injury, you may be entitled to a lump-sum payment and permanent disability payments as well. So, what happens when an employer refuses to pay owed benefits? Keep reading to learn more about this complicated topic, and what top Chicago injury lawyer, Brent Eames, has to say about your options when an employer refuses to pay owed benefits.
If an employer refuses to pay owed workers’ compensation benefits, an injured worker should file a request for hearing in order to get the case in front of an Arbitrator as soon as possible. All Arbitrators of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission consider requests for hearing on one day per month. This date is commonly referred to as the call date. Under the Commission’s procedures, all requests for hearing must first be presented on the call date before a hearing will be granted in the case.
On the call date, the Arbitrator will review all of the hearing requests which have been timely filed and presented. However, not every request for hearing will automatically be granted by the Arbitrator at the call date. Given the limited number of trial slots available, there are usually more requests for hearing filed than hearing dates and times available. A lot of factors come into play when an Arbitrator considers whether to grant a request for hearing. The most important factor is generally whether the request for hearing is based upon emergency circumstances. This would be when an injured worker has gone a long time without receiving any disability benefits, or when medical treatment is not being approved by the Respondent. Another factor which is considered is the age of the case relative to other cases with pending requests for hearing. By Commission rules, older cases are supposed to receive priority for hearing setting relative to newer cases. Additionally, the Arbitrator will consider any objections by the employer’s attorneys or representatives prior to granting a hearing request.
If the Arbitrator does not grant a hearing request, it is likely due to the fact that all available slots have been taken by cases which were deemed a higher priority. When this happens, sometimes an Arbitrator will allow you to be added to a wait list. If a spot becomes available at a later date after the call due to settlement or resolution of the issues in dispute, then the Arbitrator may fill the slot by granting a new hearing request from the wait list. Otherwise, the only option will unfortunately be to refile the request for hearing and try again for the next available call date.
If the Arbitrator grants the hearing request, then the Arbitrator will assign a court date and time which is commonly referred to as a pretrial date. Usually, the pretrial date will take place on a date and time within approximately two weeks after the call date. During the pretrial court appearance, the injured worker is not required to attend. Rather, the attorneys of record attend the court appearance to discuss and argue the issues in dispute, and then obtain recommendations from the Arbitrator. It is very common that many issues in dispute can be worked out during these pretrial conferences, and a formal trial setting will not be required. For example, if the only issue in dispute is the value of a fair settlement, then a pretrial conference is a great opportunity to get the Arbitrator’s opinion as to value. Often times, an insurance company will follow the advice of the Arbitrator given the likelihood of the Arbitrator simply adopting his recommendations should the matter proceed to a formal trial.
If the issues in dispute cannot be resolved at a pretrial conference, then the Arbitrator should assign a formal trial date for the case. Generally, a trial date will be assigned which is approximately thirty days from the date of the pretrial. The trial date is the only date which will definitely require the appearance of the injured worker. This is the formal proceeding where evidence will be presented on the record to support the claim for benefits. This will include the sworn testimony of the injured worker with regard to all issues in dispute, which could include the circumstances of the accident, the medical treatment, and the injuries sustained.
A request for a hearing in a workers’ compensation claim can be a long and complicated process. If an insurance company has denied your work comp claim or refused to pay work comp benefits, you owe it to yourself to contact one of the best work comp attorneys in Chicago, Brent Eames, to discuss your rights. If you have been injured, you should immediately contact Brent Eames for a free consultation to discuss your options.
The content of this blog is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute or establish an attorney-client relationship, nor constitute legal advice. If you wish to discuss any further aspect of the material contained herein, please contact an attorney at Eames Law Group, Ltd.