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Is an outdated workers’ compensation system harming workers?

On Behalf of | Jun 27, 2018 | Workers' Compensation

Sorting through the Illinois workers’ compensation laws can be a trying experience. There are many points in this state’s system that haven’t changed much since its inception early in the last century. This can make it difficult for workers who count on the coverage and for the employers shoehorning the job descriptions and requirements.

Many aspects of the current system are still geared toward the types of accidents that occurred during the Industrial Revolution. As time has evolved, safety has improved for jobs in manufacturing and other areas. Unfortunately, the same isn’t true for many of the points that are found in the workers’ compensation laws. This can actually put workers in danger.

Changes in work factors

Since the workers’ compensation system was established in 1911, worker safety has improved vastly. The introduction of safer equipment and the inclusion of safety protocol from studying work conditions have contributed. On top of this, many jobs that were considered unsafe during the start of last century aren’t commonplace today. This means that there are fewer deaths.

Besides changes in accident-related injuries, the specifics around occupational diseases have also evolved. This is due, in part, to the fact that workers don’t stick to jobs for as long as they did in the past, which has reduced the exposure some workers have to factors that might increase the risk of work-related diseases.

Little change in policies

Unfortunately, as the needs of workers have changed, the system hasn’t. Workers today are facing the possibility of having to take time off work due to injuries or illnesses related to work. Because the current system is complex, injured individuals may have difficulty receiving the benefits they need.

One example of the atrocities that workers face is untimely payments. Illinois law requires that workers’ compensation cases be settled within 14 days. There are penalties for not doing so within this timeframe. Still, just a little more than 38 percent of claims are settled within this period. This is far below some higher efficiency states that have a settlement rate of more than 50 percent within this 14-day period.

The ineffective system is something that injured workers shouldn’t have to deal with when they have so much going on. In some cases, they will need assistance with getting the benefits they deserve.