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        State of Illinois Employee Awarded College Education, Penalties, and Attorneys Fees

        Maximum Benefits, Medical, Lost Wages and Penalties Permitted Under Workers' Compensation

        An arbitrator ordered the employer to pay the full cost of her degree, including all books, tuition, mileage and incidental costs for NIU. The arbitrator also ordered the state to continue to pay weekly maintenance benefits while our client is a full-time student, in addition to $44,625.98 in medical bills. Finding that the state had no reasonable basis to delay the payment of medical bills and TTD, the arbitrator also assessed penalties and fees in the amount of $39,751.

        • The Case

          Employed by the State of Illinois for the Illinois Department of Health and Human Services, our client was injured during a fire drill while providing security for prisoners at a maximum-security facility in Joliet for sexual offenders in July of 2001. Suffering severe back and neck pain, injuries that would later require two cervical spine fusions and a lumbar spine fusion, she was initially denied Temporary Total Disability (TTD) for six months. Over the course of the next six years, she tried to return to work twice, but was not allowed, per her physicians’ orders, light duty and was placed on a leave of absence.

        • In Depth Look

          Injured workers trust that their Worker’s Compensation benefits will be available when an incident arises. They have faith that their employer’s insurance company operates in the best interests of the employees. Unfortunately, this is not always the practice of many employers and insurance companies.

          Mitch Horwitz, Partner at Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates, Ltd., fought aggressively and successfully against insurance companies, proving that to shortchange or deny injured workers their benefits is unethical.

          Since that time, Mitch’s client searched for employment that could accommodate her physical restrictions, providing evidence of such in the form of 290 contacts that resulted in zero job offers.

          To make matters worse, the State’s insurance company had failed to pay a great many of her medical bills, posing additional hardship on our client to receive much needed care. Under oath, the adjuster testified that he did not recall receiving the bills. The Horwitz team was able to prove that the bills had been submitted, in some cases twenty-six times, by either the medical providers directly or the Horwitz firm on our client’s behalf.

          The arbitrator found the adjuster’s testimony to be “inconsistent and not credible” in light of clear evidence submitted by the Horwitz legal team. The arbitrator stated that the State was not only responsible to pay the bills but also liable for penalties given that there was no credible reason for delaying such payments. The arbitrator did not believe the insurance company’s statements.

          The purpose of the Illinois Workers Compensation Act is to make injured workers whole. This includes vocational rehabilitation, such as training and education, at the cost of the employer to allow a person to re-enter the work force and minimize loss of income. Our client had made multiple attempts to meet with the State’s Disabled Worker Program. She took a variety of tests to further the process and traveled to Springfield to arrange face-to-face meetings, but she never received a response.

          Taking matters into her own hands, she met with a retraining specialist and pursued her desire receive a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the Northern Illinois University. She wanted her degree in order to be employed at a reasonable wage. Based in part on testimony provided by the retraining specialist and on our client’s earlier transcripts from Joliet Junior College showing she already had 55 semester credits, the arbitrator deemed her an excellent candidate for further education. The arbitrator ordered the employer to pay the full cost of her degree, including all books, tuition, mileage and incidental costs for NIU.

          The arbitrator also ordered the state to continue to pay weekly maintenance benefits while our client is a full-time student, in addition to $44,625.98 in medical bills. Finding that the state had no reasonable basis to delay the payment of medical bills and TTD, the arbitrator also assessed penalties and fees in the amount of $39,751.

          This case sends a strong message denying the rights of injured workers is costly to the employer. With experienced Worker’s Compensation representation by attorneys who will not give up on an injured worker, the legal process that can and does help make an injured worker whole.

          This case is not the first time the attorneys at Horwitz, Horwitz and Associates, Ltd. have secured penalties for the delay or denial of benefits, or the cost of a full college degree benefit for a client seeking retraining and job rehabilitation, and it will not be the last.

        • Contact Us Today

          Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates invites you for a free telephone or in person consultation to discuss your injury and any questions you may have. You can also email us or even speak with us right now on LiveChat, located in the lower right corner of the screen. Even if you do not wish to retain an attorney, we can set you on the right path for free. Most of our lawyers have more than 30 years of experience and we have an outstanding track record in helping our clients and creating a strong trust relationship, as you can see in our Success Record. Please call our Chicago office at (312) 372-8822, or our Joliet office at (815) 723-8822, or you can call our toll free number at (800)-985-1819.

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        State of Illinois Employee Awarded College Education, Penalties and Attorneys Fees

        • Workers Compensation