As you recall, in June of 2011, Governor Pat Quinn signed into law the new revisions to the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act. Several of these changes were very detrimental to workers injured in the State of Illinois. There were new implementation procedures put in place by the new Workers' Compensation Act. These changes include changes to the utilization review requirements, preferred provider programs offered by the employers, limitations on repetitive trauma claims as they relate to carpal tunnel diagnoses as well as many other harmful changes.
Furthermore, there has been a large reshuffling of Arbitrators set forth by Governor Quinn's administration. The shuffling of these Arbitrators and the termination of some Arbitrators, in our view, has made the current climate of the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission very difficult to navigate. What we mean by this is that the Arbitrators at this point in time in our view are very pro-employer friendly. We do not feel that this is fair but we are simply pointing out our observations of Arbitrator actions that we are seeing throughout the State of Illinois.
As it relates to repetitive trauma claims and/or the diagnosis of carpal tunnel, there has been a lot of negative publicity put forth by the Bellville New Democrat, a newspaper in Southern Illinois which has been republished and cited in other major newspapers such as the Peoria Journal Star, State Journal Register and Chicago Tribune. We feel that this has negatively impacted the view of the Arbitrators and Commissioners at the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission. At this point in time, we are seeing several claims denied which were otherwise found compensable in the State of Illinois in years past. Specifically, we are seeing repetitive trauma claims being heavily contested by insurance carriers when there is a diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome. We are also seeing a great amount of scrutiny placed on any and all medical records and the histories contained in those medical records by the Arbitrators.
We are not putting forth this memo to discourage you from bringing your claim, but we wish to keep our clients advised as to what we are seeing occur at the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission. Specifically, we feel that there are outside political forces that are placing pressure on current Arbitrators and current Commissioners to deny legitimate workers' compensation claims for reasons which are not based in law or based in fact. We have actively lobbied and communicated with our State Representatives to let them know the perspective of the injured worker. We encourage you to do the same. We feel that the outside influences which are being placed upon the Arbitrators to deny such claims are unfair to employees who have been injured in the workplace. We also feel that there is an undue burden placed on the employee to raise the standard of proof required in order to successfully prosecute a claim. What we see currently is Arbitrators and Commissioners making credibility rulings in favor of Respondent IME physicians.
Please be aware of the current political climate as we pursue your workers' compensation claim. We are vigorously lobbying our State Representatives to protect the rights of injured workers. We are also fighting hard at the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission to protect the rights of our clients when they have been injured in the workplace.
Should you have any further questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us. Please be assured that we are vigorously pursuing your claim and attempting to negotiate the delicate balance that we see occurring currently at the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission.
Todd A. Strong