8-16-11; Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission may be shuffling and dealing a new deck next year

They haven’t posted this on their website just yet but lots of reliable sources are confirming these changes.

Effective January 1, 2012:

Illinois has something like 20 Downstate or “outstate” venues—this basically means hearing sites other than in Cook County.

Starting in January, we are advised this will dramatically change.

Downstate venues will be in 5 regions with 3 Arbitrators each, and the monthly call cycles for the downstate hearing sites are going back to three month cycles.

The three Arbitrators at each region will rotate from venue to venue to venue each month, however when a 19(b) is filed, the case will follow the Arbitrator.

Some of the regions:

·         Rockford, Woodstock and Waukegan

·         Peoria, Quincy, and a new location in Kewanee, Illinois.  

·         Wheaton, Geneva and Joliet.   

·         Unknown, but likely including Collinsville and Springfield (please note this is complete speculation based on call size and our state map)

·         Unknown, but likely including Mattoon and Urbana (please note this is also complete speculation based on call size and state map)

We are told one of the main hearing sites is in Kewanee, and it looks like current hearing sites in DeKalb, Rock Falls and Rock Island are being eliminated.

It is unknown whether the Chicago dockets will revert to three month call cycles.

We assume lots of sitting Arbitrators may be let go because Illinois has about thirty of them and if you do the math, they aren’t going to need nearly that many to staff these five regions.

Someday soon, we hope they get rid of the extra three Commissioners and their staffs that were added five years ago. As we have said on numerous occasions, if each of the 27 Commission hearing officers including attorney staff assistants decided one contested claim a week, they would have literally nothing to do in about three months. The addition of these three Commissioners in 2006 hasn’t led to rapid movement of claims.

We feel it is a shame to see the Arbitrators bearing the whole brunt of cost-cutting.