7-2-12; “Discovery” in Illinois Workers’ Compensation, part 2—Emergency Petitions.

Following up on last week’s article about the claim “there is no discovery” in IL WC, one of astute readers pointed out there is a very big aspect of “discovery” arising from Illinois’ two emergency petitions. The Illinois WC system is mildly unusual in relation to other states to the extent an injured worker can file either a 19B or 19B-1 Petition for a limited ruling on the issues of accident, causal connection, statutory notice, medical bill payment and TTD. If claimant moves forward on a Section 19 petition, they can’t get a permanency/impairment award.

In filing such a claim, the employee and/or their counsels have to disclose or provide discovery for the other side. In a 19B proceeding the employee or their counsel has to contact the TPA/insurance carrier or defense attorney to try to work out all issues—that has to be confirmed on the pleading. In a 19B proceeding the employee or their counsel has to attach a statement of recent date outlining the reasons the employee cannot work. This is the main reason we tell our clients to ignore what we call blind “off work” notes from treaters. Section 19B appears to require more than a note; it demands a detailed report from the treating doctor.

In a 19B-1 Proceeding, the employee or their counsel basically have to provide extensive “discovery” and outline their entire claim with a list of witnesses, copies of exhibits and anything to be used in a hearing. In response, the employer’s counsel has to outline their entire defense case-in-chief. Failure to comply with full “discovery” may result in evidence being barred.

If you have concerns about how to best handle or respond to 19B or 19B-1 Petitions, please send a reply; we assure you they can be tricky. We thank our reader for his suggestions on this important topic.