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Working for a living can be tough. Professionals in any field can face injuries. Those who are injured on the job are generally entitled to compensation to help cover the costs associated with the injury. These costs can vary, but often include medical bills, prescriptions, physical therapy and other rehabilitative costs as well as lost wages. Compensation to cover these costs is generally available through the workers' compensation system.

This system is often under scrutiny by both the employers who pay for coverage and the workers who are entitled to receive compensation when injured. The system in Illinois is no exception. This is particularly true as current Governor Bruce Rauner attempts to move forward with reforms to the state's workers' compensation system.

Workers and employers alike can benefit from being aware of the potential changes. One thing that may impact these proposals is a study that was recently conducted that reviewed the state's system.

What did researchers find?

The study, completed by a Cambridge, Massachusetts nonprofit organization called the Workers Compensation Research Institute, reviewed the impact of changes made to the system in 2011. According to the report, the average cost for an injury that resulted in a minimum of seven days of lost work was $47,842 in 2012. This dropped from the previous average of $48,620 in 2008. The study reviewed costs for 17 states and found Illinois ranked the sixth highest for costs per claim at the conclusion of the study.

A piece in Crain's Chicago Business discussed the study and reactions to its findings. The piece featured an interview with the Vice President of the Illinois Manufacturers' Association, an organization that is pushing for additional reform. The Vice President agreed that the previous changes have resulted in a reduction, but states the reduction was insignificant. He pointed to data finding the total workers comp costs in the state were $2.55 per every $100 of payroll prior to the changes of 2011. After the changes were in place, the costs fell to approximately $2.35 for every $100 of payroll. Although clearly reduced, he contends additional reform is needed as the cost in Illinois remains significantly higher than the national average of $1.88.

What is the impact of the study?

The study provides those both in favor and against additional reforms with additional data to consider when proposing change. Lawmakers in the state face a difficult task: reducing the cost of workers' compensation for business owners while still ensuring injured workers receive needed benefits.

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Bonifield & Rosenstengel
16 East Main Street
Belleville, IL 62220

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