There have been promising developments in recent months for anyone involved in a workers’ compensation (WC) case in Illinois. WC attorneys are pleased to see some much needed and overdue resources added to speed resolution of more WC cases in the state. The appointment of new arbitrators and an enhanced process for documents mean new efficiencies and more prompt conclusions for parties.
Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC) arbitrators conduct judicial hearings, render awards and decisions, and approve settlement contracts in accordance with statutory requirements of the Illinois Workers' Compensation and Occupational Diseases Acts. In October of 2019, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker appointed two new full-time IWCC arbitrators: Linda Jean Cantrell and Christopher A. Harris. The following month, the governor appointed another six: Joseph Amarilio, Deborah Baker, Adam Hinrichs, Elaine Llerena, William McLaughlin, and Dennis O'Brien. On the surface, those eight new arbitrators should be very good news, however there is still some uncertainty. Some of these new arbitrators have prior WC experience and some do not. Although petitioner and respondent attorneys are getting acclimated to the nuances and leanings of each arbitrator, it is a good sign that the governor has made these appointments to fill some long-standing vacancies. This should ensure that both sides are able to get to trial and reach a resolution of their cases.
However, these new arbitrators, as well as the others who were appointed in May of 2019, have all yet to be confirmed by the Illinois Senate. This past month, Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) was selected as Illinois Senate President. He is quite familiar with the IWCC, so we can be assured that the Senate confirmations will get underway soon.
The link to the state’s webpage on IWCC arbitrators can be found here.
The state has further enhanced the IWCC system with a new e-filing and case management system called CompFile. Utilization of this system is just getting underway. While the transition from regular in-person paper filing to e-filing takes place, there will be a lot of getting used to this for attorneys, arbitrators, petitioners and respondents. However, electronic filing of case documents through CompFile is a much-needed step to bring the IWCC into the 21st Century. As the Commission goes paperless, the first documents to transition will be settlement contracts. Once the process is perfected, steps will be taken to integrate all other filed forms at the IWCC, from applications for adjustment of claims to arbitration decisions.
To learn more about the CompFile process, please visit: https://iwcc.illinois.gov/resources/compfile-implementation.html
As 2020 gets underway and both the new arbitrators and the new document system are integrated at the IWCC, those of us who work closely with the Commission have a bit of a learning curve with the new people and new processes. However, my view is that the investment of time being made now will serve the system well in the years to come.
To learn more about Romanucci & Blandin’s workers’ compensation cases, please click here.
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