What Is Arbitration?
At John Lesaganich, P.C., Attorney at Law, we take the arbitration of our client’s cases very seriously. Arbitration is not to be confused with pre-arbitration meeting with the Arbitrator. For, such a pre-arbitration meeting is informal and there is no record made of such a proceeding. On the other hand, arbitration is a formal hearing in the presence of an Arbitrator of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission who is authorized to administer oath to the injured worker before the worker testifies and also to any witnesses called by either party to arbitration. Arbitration occurs in the presence of a court reporter who creates a record of the sworn testimony taken at arbitration, as well as the questions of both lawyers and questions or comments made by the Arbitrator.
Arbitration generally is necessary in the face of a continued denial of benefits despite attempts at reason and pre-arbitration meeting or an inadequate offer to settle the pending workers’ compensation case. At arbitration the Illinois rules surrounding evidence and procedure apply. At arbitration there is simply no substitute for experience. For, an experienced workers’ compensation trial lawyer with a successful arbitration record brings to the arbitration hearing room a certain presence advantageous to his client when he enters the hearing room.
The arbitration of a workers’ compensation case many times begins with the conduction of evidence depositions of the various medical provider(s) and/or IME physician(s). Depositions are necessary because despite a well authored narrative report, the report is technically hearsay; therefore requiring cross-examination of the doctor by the party raising the hearsay objection. Insist from your lawyer the opportunity to read the text of any pre-arbitration evidence depositions. For, its reading should provide you with not only an indication of your attorney’s skill level, but also a better understanding of the medical issues in the case to be presented to the Arbitrator.
A Peoria Alternative Dispute Resolution Attorney
At John Lesaganich, P.C., Attorney at Law, we take the pre-arbitration preparation of our clients very seriously. Days before arbitration, it is this firm’s practice to go over the evidence with the injured worker and also to prepare him with ideas as to what questions he will be asked by not only this office but also by opposing counsel.
Depending upon the identity of the Arbitrator, the injured worker can be made to wait thirty to ninety days before receipt of the Arbitrator’s decision. Review or appeal of that decision is a matter of right to either party. Unfortunately, reviews prolong the arbitration process anywhere from a few months to just a bit more than one year.
The Need for Experience on Both Sides of A Workers’ Compensation Claim
Before arbitrating your claim your lawyer should tell you something about the Arbitrator who will hear your case. Arbitrators are generally classified by experienced workers’ compensation trial lawyers as liberal, middle of the road, or conservative. Liberal referring to a more worker oriented attitude towards application of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. While middle of the road refers to an Arbitrator who possesses both liberal and conservative tendencies. Finally, the conservative Arbitrator would seem to be more inclined to apply the Act in a way which seems to be somewhat employer oriented. Knowing your Arbitrator can be very much a part of considering what to do with a pending settlement offer. Again, predicting the attitudes of the trial Arbitrator and the potential effects of those attitudes on the injured worker’s likelihood of success at arbitration can be an essential component to the decision making process involved in considering whether to settle or arbitrate a workers’ compensation case.
The lifetime medical and lifetime disability checks you hear about on television are much more often than not the result of the successful arbitration of your case and not simply its settlement. For, with successful arbitration comes what lawyers call open Section 8(a) benefits which refers to the injured worker’s continued access to credible, reasonable and necessary related medical care post arbitration for as long as the injured worker can prove that such post arbitration medical care is indeed reasonable, necessary and related to the effects of the accidental injuries at issue before the Arbitrator at the original arbitration of the case. Successful arbitration also allows the injured worker certain rights pursuant to Section 19(h) of the Act which permits either the employer or employee within thirty (30) to sixty (60) months, depending upon the nature of the Commission award, access to review by the Commission upon the ground that the disability of the employee has subsequent to arbitration recurred, increased, diminished or ended. Successful arbitration and the continued access to Sections 8(a) and 19(h) of the Act can be of great benefit to the injured worker who suffers from an occupational condition of ill-being which is progressive in nature.
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Contact our office or toll free to talk with attorney John Lesaganich about your workman’s comp benefits. At our office, initial consultations are always free and confidential. We are located on Main Street in downtown Peoria, across from the courthouse.