The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC) handles workers’ comp claim denials, typically through an arbitrator. Those who appeal the arbitrator’s decision must appeal to the IWCC directly. After the IWCC, the only option is to go to court.
The process can be difficult, but it may be possible in some situations. Here, we’ll discuss the appeals process and how to best appeal an IWCC decision.
The Appeals Process
At times, an employer may deny workers’ compensation benefits to an employee. There are a few reasons why that might happen, such as if the claim wasn’t filed on time or if the injury itself went unreported.
However, in the event of an unfair denial, an injured employee can appeal the decision to the IWCC. Their case will be presented before an arbitrator, who will make a decision. If they still rule that benefits should be denied, it may be possible to appeal that decision as well. However, can prove a challenge.
Appealing the Arbitrator’s Decision
Less than a quarter of workers who appeal an IWCC arbitrator’s decision see any improvement in their benefits, so it’s important to make sure you have a valid case before you continue appealing.
Petition for Review
To appeal the arbitrator’s decision, you’ll first have to file a Petition for Review. This document must be filed within 30 days of the decision, so it’s important to be prompt here.
Review by the IWCC
The IWCC will assign three commissioners to review the petition. After reviewing the decision made by the arbitrator, they’ll set a hearing date.
IWCC hearing and final decision
Prior to the hearing, you are allowed to submit a written argument for why your benefits shouldn’t be denied. In addition, you’ll have five to ten minutes to argue your position to the Commission. After that, they have 60 days to issue a decision.
That decision is final, which means it will be very difficult to appeal further.
How to Appeal an IWCC Decision
If the IWCC still upholds denial of workers’ compensation benefits, it’s technically possible to appeal their decision through one of the courts. That can be a challenging process since court hearings are very different from arbitration or IWCC hearings. However, a court ruling can be more binding.
Contacting an attorney
The first thing you should do (if you haven’t already) is contact a workers’ compensation attorney. This is absolutely necessary to filing an appeal past the IWCC’s decision, and you’ll need legal representation if this process is to be successful.
Taking the case to court
If you go to court, you’ll start with the Circuit Court. If that doesn’t succeed, you can take it to the Appellate Court, then the Supreme Court.
The process involves a great deal of paperwork, and proper protocols must be followed, which is again why an attorney is so crucial.
Getting a court judgment
It may take multiple hearings, a vast amount of preparation, and months of time before you get a decision. If all goes well, that decision should be in your favor, and your employer will have to promptly pay any benefits due.
Naturally, the best way to secure a positive outcome when appealing an IWCC decision is to involve an experienced attorney. Hart David Carson LLP can help you in that regard.