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Complexities of Workers' Compensation Liens: Understanding the Exceptions

March 2023

Andrea M. Carlson and Ivan Nieves

Generally, in Illinois workers’ compensation cases, there are no liens allowed against petitioners’ cases pursuant to Section 21 of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act:

    “No payment, claim, award or decision under this Act shall be assignable or subject to any lien, attachment or garnishment, or be held liable in any way for any lien, debt, penalty or damages,. . .”

As will be discussed in this article, however, there are important exceptions where liens can be claimed against a petitioner’s case which require special consideration and attention. Conversely, you may receive notice of a lien that is actually unenforceable against a workers’ compensation case under the law and this article will provide guidance how to identify and approach these unenforceable liens.

Parking Lot Falls - Recent Appellate Court Decision Raises Questions About Employer-Provided Parking Areas

Parking Lot Falls - Recent Appellate Court Decision Raises Questions About Employer-Provided Parking Areas

February 2023

Ivan Nieves

A recent Illinois Appellate Court Decision may change what is considered an employer “provided” parking area for purposes of compensability for an employee who sustains an injury in a parking area. In the recent case, Western Springs Police Department v. Ill. Workers' Comp. Comm'n, 2023 IL App (1st) 211574WC (“Western Springs”), the Illinois Appellate Court held that an employee who fell on ice and snow in a parking area owned by the municipality, but available for use by the general public, could still recover workers’ compensation benefits despite the fact that there was no greater risk to the employee than the general public.

Average Weekly Wage: Are Overtime Hours Really Mandatory Or Consistent?

Average Weekly Wage: Are Overtime Hours Really Mandatory Or Consistent?

November 2021

By: Markeya A. Fowler

Properly calculating average weekly wage is essential to any claim and can often pose a challenge based on the types of compensation received by an employee. In a year, an employee often earns regular wages, overtime wages, bonuses and additional earnings for working holidays. An issue often in dispute between parties that can significantly affect the average weekly wage calculation is whether overtime hours worked are mandatory, or, if not mandatory, consistently worked?

It is well established under case law and the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act that average weekly wage is calculated generally to exclude overtime and bonuses. Section 10 of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act states that:

“Compensation shall be computed on the basis of the average weekly wage which shall mean the actual earnings of the employee in the employment in which he was working at the time of the injury during the period of 52 weeks ending with the last day of the employee's last full pay period immediately preceding the date of injury, illness or disablement excluding overtime, and bonus divided by 52.”

So what exactly does this mean? Since the enactment of the current version of Section 10, the Appellate Court has interpreted the statute to determine the legislature’s intentions and what should be classified as overtime.

A Peek Into Petitioner’s Past Prevents A Permanent Total

January 2021

By: Francis M. Brady, Karen E. Zimmermann, and Ndubuisi V. Obah

Petitioner was scheduled for a cervical fusion surgery which she and her treating neurosurgeon both linked to a trauma at work. A large umbrella blew over and its pole struck petitioner in the back of the head. Not only was there a physical injury, petitioner also asserted she sustained post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the incident. She was supported in that claim by her treating psychologist. Both doctors limited her ability to work and no light duty could be afforded. Thus she was and had been for some months on full benefits.

No Penalties for Delay in Authorizing Medical Treatment: A Defense for Employers

No Penalties for Delay in Authorizing Medical Treatment: A Defense for Employers

October 2020

By: Markeya A. Fowler

Expanding on its reasoning in Hollywood Casino-Aurora, Inc. v Ill. Workers’ Comp. Comm’n, 2012 IL App (2d) 110426WC, the Second District Appellate Court issued a decision that limits the awarding of Section 19(l) and Section 8(a) penalties and attorney’s fees under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act.

Captain Caterpillar: The Final Word on McAllister

October 2020

By: Rachel E. Smith

A workers’ compensation case concerning carrots, coworkers, and common courtesy, Kevin McAllister’s claim for benefits sent the Illinois courts down a path of self-reflection when considering whether injuries involving common bodily movements arise out of employment.

On August 7, 2014, Kevin McAllister was preparing for the dinner rush at North Pond Restaurant, where he worked as a sous-chef. Part of his process was arranging the restaurant’s walk-in cooler, making sauces, and prepping food items; so, when a co-worker mentioned misplacing a pan of carrots in the walk-in cooler, Mr. McAllister offered help. He thoroughly checked the walk-in cooler, finally kneeling down to search under the shelves. When he stood up, there was a “pop” and his knee “locked up.” He hopped over to a table to try and straighten his leg, failed, and was taken to the emergency room. After presenting his claim for benefits, the Arbitrator found that the injury arose out of his employment, as the act of looking for the carrots in the walk-in was one the employer reasonably could have expected him to perform in order to fulfill his duties as a sous-chef. The Arbitrator found Mr. McAllister’s position so clear and convincing, that it rendered the Respondent’s refusal to pay benefits dilatory, retaliatory, and objectively unreasonable, warranting the imposition of penalties and attorney’s fees, in addition to awarding TTD, PPD, and medical benefits.

  • Chicago Bar Association
  • Workers' Compensation Lawyers Association
  • DRI
  • The Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel
  • Illinois Self-Insurers' Association
  • Chicago Bar Association
  • Workers' Compensation Lawyers Association
  • DRI
  • The Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel
  • Illinois Self-Insurers' Association
10 South LaSalle Street, Suite 900
Chicago, IL 60603
Phone: 312-425-3131
211 Landmark Drive, Suite C2
Normal, IL 61761
Phone: 309-862-4914
1015 Locust Street, Suite 914
St. Louis, MO 63101
Phone: 314-300-0527
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