The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission has announced that all in person hearings and settlements are suspended until November 30, 2020. The Commission will only allow emergency hearings that having been filed with a new petition (any existing petition will not be honored). The case must then be vetted by an Arbitrator in advance to confirm that it is a true emergency. The hearing locations are Chicago, Rockford, Peoria, Springfield and Collinsville. The case will be heard by an emergency Arbitrator assigned to those specific locations and not the regularly assigned Arbitrator.
The Commission has set forth a process to allow pro-se settlements via Webex without a personal appearance. However, the process might be difficult for some petitioners. In order to get a pro-se contract approved the respondent must:
1. Communicate with the assigned Arbitrator by email and submit a suitable affidavit attached to a letter on the firm letterhead signed by the responsible attorney answering a series of questions with sufficient detail for the Arbitrator to assess the viability of approving the settlement agreement via Web-ex.
2. Respondent’s attorneys need to assist pro-se petitioner’s with Web-ex prior to the scheduled hearing.
This temporary pro-se process will most likely work well for simple settlement and petitioner’s that are not tech averse. It will be more difficult for complex settlements or petitioner’s that are not good with technology.
The Commission will be making a decision soon regarding the plan for December. Pre-trials via Web-ex will continue. In fact, some Arbitrators might open up more pre-trial dates by holding them on the cancelled trial dates. That would be a great help to all parties as many Arbitrators have been running out of available pre-trial dates due to the high demand.
It appears likely that in person hearings will be limited in December if the current COVID surge continues. It is possible that the Commission will continue this emergency process through the end of the year.
We will provide a further update once the Commission provides notice of their policy and procedures for December. Feel free to contact any member of our Illinois Workers’ Compensation team with questions.
IN-PERSON HEARING PROCEDURES - effective November 16, 2020
PRO SE SETTLEMENT PROCEDURES - effective November 16, 2020