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If a case is not settled before the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission (IWCC), the case proceeds to hearing. Several questions arise regarding procedures before the IWCC. This article contains a brief synopsis regarding the general procedure of hearings at the IWCC.
Once a case is filed before the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission (IWCC), it is assigned to arbitrator. There are arbitrators assigned to various parts of the state and there are thirteen arbitrators assigned to Chicago. Regarding Chicago cases that are filed, a computer selects an arbitrator. If a case is filed outside of Cook County, the arbitrator is designed by the one that sits in the collection of counties.
Due to procedural changes, all cases on arbitration are motioned up. While they are set for an initial status date, cases are routinely continued 90 days until they are set up for trial. The burden is on the Petitioners' Attorney to motion the case up when it is ready for hearing. The arbitrator willl then give it a hearing date if the case has been set in Chicago. If the case is outside of Cook County, then the petitioner or his Attorney motions the case up for the next hearing date after giving the appropriate notice.
Arbitration Hearings are informal hearings where the petitioner usually testifies as to the events concerning his injury and the results of his injury. Medical evidence is then submitted by either reports, depositions or live testimony. After proofs have been closed by both sides, the arbitrator issues a decision to both sides. If the petitioner is represented by an attorney, the decision goes to the his attorney. Upon receipt of that decision, either side has 30 days to file an appeal.
Once the appeal has been filed, the case is not set for a review hearing (appeal hearing) until the transcript has been typed by the court reporter that has been on the arbitration hearing. Once the transcript has been typed, it is filed before the IWCC and a review hearing is set. There are 9 Commissioners hearing reviews.
An oral argument is set before the IWCC if one is an requested. Generally, all reviews that are filed request an oral argument. These oral arguments are held several days a month in Chicago and one day a month in Springfield. At that time, both sides argue merits of their case. A new decision, containing written reasons, is then issued by the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission (IWCC) to the parties or their attorneys. This decision then becomes the final decision of the IWCC.
Upon receipt of the decision of the IWCC, either party has 20 days to file a Writ to the Circuit Court of that County. The burden of challenging a finding a fact made by thr IWCC is very diffucult to sustain. Therefore, Writs are not filed unless there is a question of law involved. After the Circuit Court hears an argument by both sides on a Writ, either side may take a direct appeal to the Illinois Appellate Court. These appeals are rare in that again certain criteria must be met to change the IWCC's decision.
In this writer's experience, out of the thousands of cases I have handled, only 3 or 4 have gone all the way to the Supreme Court.
It is important to realize that if an injured worker has his case heard by the IWCC and a settlement is not made, his rights under 8(A) for the future medical treatment and 19(H) of the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act providing for the additional disability in the future remain open. This is not the case if the matter has been settled.
Should anyone have questions regarding this, I should be happy to answer them. I may be contacted toll free at 1-800-572-6277 in Illinois.