Ridge & Downes - Law Firm

  • How are WC insurers spending their profits?

    Benefit payments are down, profits are up.

    Instead of passing these savings on to Illinois businesses, insurers are throwing parties complete with Hummer limos, go-go dancers, a live alligator and glowing aliens in spandex.  This is according to the next edition of the ProPublica/NPR investigation into the race to the bottom occurring nationwide.  ProPublica investigated the National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference & Expo.  They reported that there are more than 150 such conferences a year, bringing together claims professionals (adjusters) and members of the cost containment cottage industries that serve them: companies that provide networks of doctors and companies that review medical bills, firms that provide expert medical opinions and firms that specialize in complex claims, defense lawyers, data processing firms, rehab facilities, surveillance companies, outside claims shops, occupational medicine clinics, pain management services, translators, schedulers, headhunters, labs that test injured workers’ urine for illegal drugs, labs that test urine to ensure workers are taking the prescribed drugs instead of selling them.  These groups have a lot to celebrate, many of them have seen their stock prices double in the last couple years.  But the growth of these cost containment firms has added another layer of cold bureaucracy and complication to an already complex system that the average worker finds himself lost in.

    Tell Governor Rauner that you know better.  The benefits provided to injured workers is not what needs reform.  Further reforms should focus on insurance industry and self-insureds’ transparency and oversight.  The Legislative Research Unit reports that workers’ compensation costs for State employees fell 8% between 2013 and 2014, however other self-insured employers, such as Caterpillar, have refused to disclose the savings they are experiencing from the 2011 Amendments.  There are two bills pending that would create a task force to study premium rates and self-insurance transparency: House Bill 1287 and Senate Bill 162.

    If you ever have any questions about the hard facts, give us a call at (312) 372-8282.  We are happy to answer any questions you have about personal injury or workers’ compensation.




  • PROOF BY ASSERTION: If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.

    Governor Rauner is still demanding workers’ compensation “reform” in the ongoing budget standoff.  In pursuit of this goal, the Governor has adopted the political rhetoric in which a proposition is repeatedly restated regardless of its’ truth.  He is trying to brainwash the people of this State into believing that everything that is wrong with Illinois is because of workers’ compensation.  We refuse to allow the Governor’s political rhetoric to go uncontradicted.

    This month, we want to bring you some facts about workers’ compensation in Illinois so when you see issues in the press you can spread the truth to those around you.

    If you follow workers’ compensation debates, you may have heard of the Oregon Study. If you haven’t, each year the State of Oregon publishes a comprehensive study about Workers’ Compensation throughout the USA. So what does this report actually say?  Illinois’ premium index rate has decreased 11.32% from 2004 to 2014. 

    Some more fun facts:

    • Insurers reported a 19% decrease in total benefit payments (loss costs) between 2011 and 2015, largely the result of the 2011 Amendments, which reduced medical fees by 30% and made other changes.  Further savings is anticipated once the full effects of the 2011 Amendments are felt. 
    • The Workers’ Compensation Research Institute reported in October 2015 that medical payments in Illinois feel below neighboring states of Indiana, Wisconsin, and Iowa.  The report says that the 2011changes lowered the amount insurers spent per claim by 20 percent.  This is the largest decrease in the average medical payment per claim among study states.
    • Illinois wages are 6% higher than the U.S. average. (Workers’ Compensation premiums are based, in part, on wages.)
    • Illinois has the most workers’ compensation insurers of any state.  Since 2006, the number of insurance companies writing workers’ compensation policies in Illinois has jumped 13 percent.
    • The National Council on Compensation Insurance recommended a 20% reduction for Illinois workers’ Compensation insurance rates.
    • A report from the Illinois Department of Insurance shows that profits within the Illinois workers’ compensation sector have increased since the 2011 changes.  Insurers are not passing on the profits to employers in the form of premium decreases.



    Instead of passing these savings on to Illinois businesses, insurers are throwing parties complete with Hummer limos, go-go dancers, a live alligator and glowing aliens in spandex.  This is according to the next edition of the ProPublica/NPR investigation into the race to the bottom occurring nationwide.  ProPublica investigated the National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference & Expo.  They reported that there are more than 150 such conferences a year, bringing together claims professionals (adjusters) and members of the cost containment cottage industries that serve them: companies that provide networks of doctors and companies that review medical bills, firms that provide expert medical opinions and firms that specialize in complex claims, defense lawyers, data processing firms, rehab facilities, surveillance companies, outside claims shops, occupational medicine clinics, pain management services, translators, schedulers, headhunters, labs that test injured workers’ urine for illegal drugs, labs that test urine to ensure workers are taking the prescribed drugs instead of selling them.  These groups have a lot to celebrate, many of them have seen their stock prices double in the last couple years.  But the growth of these cost containment firms has added another layer of cold bureaucracy and complication to an already complex system that the average worker finds himself lost in.

    Tell Governor Rauner that you know better.  The benefits provided to injured workers is not what needs reform.  Further reforms should focus on insurance industry and self-insureds’ transparency and oversight.  The Legislative Research Unit reports that workers’ compensation costs for State employees fell 8% between 2013 and 2014, however other self-insured employers, such as Caterpillar, have refused to disclose the savings they are experiencing from the 2011 Amendments.  There are two bills pending that would create a task force to study premium rates and self-insurance transparency: House Bill 1287 and Senate Bill 162.

    If you ever have any questions about the hard facts, give us a call at (312) 372-8282.  We are happy to answer any questions you have about personal injury or workers’ compensation.




  • Death on the Job

    Our June 2012 Ridge Update reviews the AFL-CIO's annual report, "Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect," and provides a summary of the death benefits provided under the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act.

    In Illinois, the threat of being killed in a job-related accident is real and growing. According to the AFL-CIO’s annual report, “Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect,” an average of 13 workers per day were killed on the job in 2010.  The number of workers dying in workplace accidents has continued to rise since 2004.    The new 2010 data just released shows that more than 3.8 million workers across all industries experienced work-related injuries and illnesses in 2010.

    The most recent debate regarding the Illinois workers’ compensation system has centered around how to lower the cost of benefits provided to employees, when it should focus on how to make our workplaces safer.  According to the AFL-CIO’s report, Illinois suffered 206 worker fatalities in 2010, ranking it 26th on the list of safest states.   Of these 206 fatalities, 73 were transportation incidents, 40 were the result of assaults and violent acts, 39 were from contact with objects and equipment, 31 were from falls, 15 were from exposure to harmful substances or environments, and 7 were from fires and explosions. 

    In Illinois, the surviving spouse and/or minor children of the deceased worker are entitled to weekly benefits. If the worker does not leave a surviving spouse or minor children, benefits may be paid to certain other family members that were at least 50% dependent on the deceased worker’s income for support. The weekly benefit is two-thirds of the deceased employee’s gross average weekly wage during the 52 weeks before the injury, subject to certain minimums and maximums. The minimum weekly benefit for injuries occurring after July 15, 2011 is $473.03. The weekly benefit is paid for 25 years, or up to $500,000.00, whichever is more. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act also provides for a benefit of $8,000.00 to the survivor or the person paying for the burial expenses.

    These benefits provide little comfort to the families who have lost loved ones in workplace accidents.  Employers in Illinois need to do a better job of looking after the safety and welfare of employees in the workplace. The Illinois legislature should enact fair and effective rules to strengthen employee safety. This would decrease accidents and reduce workers’ compensation costs. If you think your job is unsafe, request an OSHA inspection by clicking here.  You can also file a complaint with the Safety Division of the Illinois Department of Labor by clicking here.

    At Ridge & Associates, we take workplace safety seriously.  If you have concerns about your workplace or questions about the death benefits provided in Illinois, please contact us.





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