Worker’s compensation e-filing in Illinois is scheduled to be implemented next year. This system will make filing a worker’s comp case in Illinois much more efficient. The changes will bring the worker’s compensation system in line with Illinois courts where e-filing is the required filing method.
To be sure, change is badly needed. Filing a worker’s comp case in Illinois is something that an estimated 45,000 individuals due each year. Perhaps not surprisingly, approximately one-third of these claims are filed in Chicago. This number represents roughly 25% of all work-related accidents occurring in Illinois per year. What this means is that many workers choose not to file a formal claim. Rather, they elect to resolve the claim without the involvement of the Illinois Worker’s Compensation Commission. Regardless, those that are injured should ensure that they follow proper procedures following an injury to protect their rights and eligibility for benefits.
Worker’s Comp E-Filing in Illinois to be Implemented in Three Phases
The new e-filing system is being built on a Microsoft Platform and will be entirely web based. It will be rolled-out in three phases. The first phase is due to begin in February of 2020. During this phase attorneys will be permitted to register for online access.
The second phase will be much more involved and is scheduled to begin in June of 2020. Most importantly, this phase will implement the settlement process into the online system. This is important since some 90% of all worker’s comp cases in Illinois are eventually settled. Streamlining the settlement process through the online system should greatly improve the parties’ ability to settle claims.
The third phase will commence in October of next year is expected to last until the end of the year. It is expected that worker’s comp e-filing in Illinois will be fully functional by January of 2021.
The regulations related to the electronic filing system are set forth in Illinois Code Sections 9015.10 to 9015.60. The regulations provide an important overview of the electronic filing system, as well as important filing procedures that claimants must follow. By reviewing the regulations, we have a better idea of what the new worker’s comp e-filing system will look like.
Filing a Worker’s Comp Case in Illinois Going Forward
The overall process for filing a worker’s comp case in Illinois will remain the same but for the requirement that the claim be filed online. If you are injured at work, you will still have to go through the process of notifying your employer of your injury and timely filing a claim. Prior to filing a claim, you must follow these steps:
- Notify your employer. You have 45 days from the date of your accident to notify your employer. Generally, if you fail to notify your employer within 45 days your worker’s comp claim will be denied. There are a few exceptions (such as a slow-developing injury) but the requirements can be difficult to meet.
- Wait for your employer’s response. After you timely notify your employer, they will have 14 days to accept or deny your claim if your injury caused you to miss 3 or more days of work. Moreover, your employer must provide you with a list of medical practitioners and timely notify their insurance company. Should your employer deny your claim, they must give you a written explanation.
- You must file an accident report with the Commission. After you notify your employer of your injury, you must file an accident report with the Commission within 30 days.
- File an Application for Adjustment of Claim. An Application for Adjustment of Claim is the formal document you must complete when filing a worker’s comp case in Illinois. There are some important deadlines and requirements that you must abide by when filing the Application. They are fairly technical, but as a general matter you must file the Application within 3 years of your injury or within 2 years from date that you last received a compensation payment. If you fail to file by the deadline, you may still qualify under several important exceptions. You must also provide proof that you provided your employer with a copy of your Application.
The only difference under the new e-filing system is that the process will be initiated online and case management will be handled through the system. While phase one involves registering worker’s comp lawyers in Illinois and their firms, the regulations provide that claimants not represented by counsel must also have access to the system.
Much like there is now, under the new e-filing system there will be important procedures to follow. The regulations provide strict formatting requirements for all documents filed. Moreover, documents must be timely filed and electronically signed where required.
Perhaps the largest difference under the new system will be the ease in which claimants can track their cases. The new system will allow claimants to access and print important documents in their cases, as well as keep track of deadlines and hearings.
Filing a worker’s comp case in Illinois can be a confusing and daunting process. Worker’s compensation law in Illinois is complicated. Failure to meet important deadlines can result in your claim for benefits being denied. For these reasons, it is advisable to consult with an experienced workers comp lawyer Illinois prior to filing a claim.
If you have been injured at work please contact us today to discuss your rights under Illinois worker’s compensation law. In addition, if you have any concerns about worker’s comp e-filing in Illinois we will be happy to discuss how the changes may impact your case going forward.