As part of the new Illinois workers compensation reform package, downstate hearing locations will be consolidated into the 6 regions listed below to take effect on January 1, 2012. The reduction in hearing locations is structured to conform to the new rotating arbitrator requirements in House Bill 1698/Public Act 97-18.
The reduction of the current 23 downstate hearing locations to the 16 new locations will increase the efficiency of the Commission by reducing associated facility costs and attempt to evenly spread out pending caseloads between arbitrators for more efficient allocation of human resources. The reduction will also require some injured workers to drive greater distances to have their claims heard for trial.
Three arbitrators will now appear at each of the new hearing site locations in rotation at each location as required by the new law and cases will be randomly assigned among them. A set of 3 arbitrators will circulate within the designated geographical zones with each arbitrator taking their turn at handling monthly hearings and motions with a return to the 90-day continuance cycles.
The rotation of the 3 arbitrators through a particular downstate hearing location was put into place by the new Illinois workers comp reform law to prevent what was perceived as overly familiar relationships between practicing attorneys and sitting arbitrators. The legislators specifically wanted to bust up what they perceived as being overly familiar or overly "cozy" relationships between practicing attorneys and arbitrators regularly appearing at specific downstate hearing locations.
New 2012 Arbitration Regions/Hearing site locations effective 1-01-2012:
1) Collinsville, Herrin, Mt. Vernon
2) Quincy, Springfield, Urbana
3) Bloomington, Kewanee, Peoria
4) Geneva, Joliet, Ottawa
5) Rockford, Waukegan, Woodstock
6) Wheaton -- 3 Chicago arbitrators will be assigned to Wheaton
The Workers Compensation Commission will shortly proceed to reassign all pending downstate cases to the new hearing locations and will make new assignments to individual arbitrators once all the arbitrator re-appointments have been made and the new hires for arbitrator are announced. Notice of Hearing forms are expected to issue reflecting both the new geographic location for hearing and the new arbitrator assignments. Partially tried cases will continue to stay with the original arbitrator assigned where ever possible for completion of hearings and issuance of decision.
Questions regarding the new hearing locations should be directed to Ms. Bertha Parker at email@example.com .
Illinois workers compensation attorney -- 9-05-11