Just as claims are not lawsuits, the arbitrators are not judges. However, they are similar to judges in many ways. If there is a dispute about benefits, either party can ask for a hearing or trial. The arbitrator will resolve the dispute by hearing arguments and evidence from both sides and making a decision.
Chicago arbitrators are randomly assigned to cases
There are about 15 arbitrators in the Chicago office of the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission. Most of them are attorneys, but it's not a requirement. When you file a claim with the Commission, they will randomly assign your case to an arbitrator. In Cook County, the arbitrator you get is not based on where you live or where you were injured. You will get a Notice of Motion mailed to you after you file your claim, which will tell you which arbitrator has been assigned to your case.
Your case is scheduled with an arbitrator every two months
Generally, your case will be scheduled for a "status call" every two months. These are informal and are scheduled automatically. Your Notice of Motion (that you receive in the mail after you file your claim), will tell you the date and time of your first status call. The Chicago office of the Commission is downtown at 100 W. Randolph St. Claimants are not required to go to the status call unless they want to request a trial. If nothing happens, the case is simply put on the calendar for two months later. Another time that you might appear before the arbitrator is if you request an immediate hearing because of an emergency, such as if your benefits are terminated.
Your attorney should know the arbitrators
Just like judges, some arbitrators are known for being sympathetic to certain situations. And also like judges, each arbitrator has his or her own style of handling cases and making decisions. The key is hiring a workers' compensation attorney who has significant experience with the arbitrators in Chicago.
Additional resources provided by the author
We recommend hiring an attorney if you are injured at work. We believe this gives you the best chance of receiving full benefits. Don't know where to start? Give us a call. We'll answer your questions and even find you an attorney. 1-312-346-5320.
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