Illinois Reforms Workers’ Comp System – Echoes of North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Reform?

August 3, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

On August 8, the Illinois workers’ compensation system metabolized a minor reform. The changes to IL law come on the heels of the North Carolina workers’ compensation system’s major transformation, which this blog reported about at length earlier in the summer.

According to an article, the new IL law was sparked by a single horrific news story.

If you remember a few months ago, we talked about the case of former Illinois State Trooper Matt Mitchell, who sped at more than 100 miles per hour – while talking on a cell phone, no less! – soared through a median strip, hit another car, and killed two teenage girls. Mitchell was charged with reckless homicide, but he got off with just 30 months of probation thanks to a deal with prosecutors.

That alone galled some Illinois residents. But Mitchell then claimed workers’ comp for his injuries. The arbitrator who later denied Mitchell’s claim concluded that he “took substantial and unjustifiable risk resulting in a gross deviation in the standard of care of his duty as an Illinois State Trooper.” The arbitrator also highlighted the fact that Mitchell was driving at a high speed and might have been writing emails on his car computer as well as taking personal phone calls right before the accident happened.

So the reformation to Illinois workers’ comp law is narrow and is essentially just meant to stop cases like Mitchell’s from ever again even being considered. Here is how summarized the measure: “[the measure] would prevent any state employer hurt at work from being eligible for workers’ compensation if the injury happened during a forcible felony, an aggravated DUI, or reckless homicide, and if any of those crimes killed or injured another person.”

Governor Pat Quinn emphasized that the law would ensure that “workers’ compensation benefits go only to those who deserve them.”

The changes to Illinois system are essentially closing a loophole, whereas the changes to the North Carolina workers’ compensation system are more systemic and designed to control costs and help businesses (and, to a lesser extent, injured workers) get a fair deal.

Securing benefits is complicated enough. If you are hurt or sick, you don’t have time to track all of the North Carolina legislature’s activities. Fortunately, you don’t have to pay attention to the minutia. By turning to a trusted, compassionate, aggressive North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm, you can make smarter decisions, protect your rights, and ensure that you get the benefits you and your family need.

More Web Resources:

former Illinois State Trooper Matt Mitchell – quest for comp

No Workers’ Comp Benefits For People Convicted Of Crime