A recent decision rendered by the Illinois Workers Compensation commission will go a long way in shaping how the American Medical Association (AMA) ratings will affect Permanent Partial Disability awards and settlements. As many already know, the Illinois General Assembly amended the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act in June 2011. Under the amendments and pursuant to Section 8.1b of the Act the Commission shall base PPD awards on the following factors:
- the level of impairment according to the AMA guidelines
- the occupation of the injured worker
- the age of the employee at the time of injury
- the employee’s future earning capacity
- evidence of medical records corroborated by disability
An Abritrator at the commission recently assessed these factors in Williams v. Flexible Staffing.
The Petitioner in Williams was a 4 year old welder who suffered a right distal bicep tear during the course of his employment. His treatment included surgery, therapy and work conditioning before subsequently being released to full duty work by his employer. Despite full duty release, the Respondent was unable to employ the Petitioner
.Following the conclusion of Petitioner’s treatment, the Respondent ordered a section 12 Independent Medical Examination. This medical examiner assessed Petitioner’s impairment, based on the AMA ratings, at 6% Upper Extremity Impairment and 4% Whole Person Impairment. The Arbitrator, however, awarded Petitioner 30 percent loss of use of the right arm.
In awarding disability, the arbitrator assessed the five factors pursuant to 8(b)1. Most notably, the arbitrator took into consideration the employee’s age, 44 years old; the employee’s diminished earning capacity–the Arbitrator concluded that the Respondent’s refusal to take Petitioner back diminished Petitioner’s future earning capacity; and the evidence of disability corroborated by medical records-the arbitrator took into account the diagnosis, the need for surgery and the course of treatment in determining that the medical records corroborated the disability. The arbitrator also provided a sophisticated analysis of the AMA rating issued by the IME doctor.
As an injured worker, it is more important than ever that you hire an attorney with knowledge of how the new laws in Illinois work. The workers compensation attorneys at GWC have been working tirelessly to ensure they are ready to battle the new changes in the act, so they can maximize what you receive at the end of your case.