More than Totally and Permanently Disabled from Work Injury in Illinois


Is that possible to receive more than lifetime total disability benefits in Illinois from a single accident? Answer: Yes -- it is possible, but it won’t happen very often.

In Beelman Trucking, (May 21, 2009, Ill. Supreme Ct.) an injured worker received lifetime total disability benefits for the complete paralysis of both legs and he also received an award for the amputation or loss of use of both arms. In Beelman, the employer argued that a worker cannot be more than totally and permanently disabled. The employer argued that the Illinois Workers Compensation Act puts a cap on the benefits available at lifetime permanent total disability benefits. (A lifetime award would normally be at 2/3 of his regular pay for life) The employer argued that a worker cannot possibly be more than totally and permanently disabled in a single work accident.

14 years after a tragic truck accident, a truck driver, Jack Carson, was allowed by the Illinois Supreme Court to keep an award for the loss of both his arms as well as a lifetime pension for paralysis of both his legs.

There is no dispute that an injured worker in Illinois can receive lifetime disability benefits for the loss of 2 arms, 2 hands, 2 legs, 2 feet, 2 eyes or any combination thereof under Section 18(e)(18). The question was whether Carson could keep an additional award of 235 weeks for paralysis of his left arm and an extra 300 weeks compensation for amputation of his right arm on top of the lifetime benefits already awarded.

Illinois essentially recognizes 3 types of permanent and total disability pensions. Lifetime disability benefits are available for those (1) that are “obviously unemployable” because they are wholly and permanently incapable of work, or (2) for someone capable of limited work but they are damaged to the point that there is no stable labor market anymore for a person of like age, training and physical limitations known as “odd-lot” permanent total disability pension and (3) in the case of someone eligible by statute for total disability pension for the amputation or loss of use of 2 arms, 2 hands, 2 legs, 2 feet, 2 eyes or any combination thereof known as a “statutory” permanent total disability.

It is contemplated that someone with a “statutory” total disability pension may eventually even return to work earning some wages but the disability pension is awarded by law for the severe nature of the injuries.

Under the first two disability pensions, a worker cannot receive money by adding up the % of each body part on top of the total disability pension. Under the third type of disability pension, the “statutory” total disability pension involving amputations, it is possible to obtain additional awards for losses on top of the total disability pension.

As a good example, in Freeman United Coal (1984) 99 ILL.2d 487, a coal miner on a “statutory” total disability pension was allowed to receive an additional award for other injuries he received following a second work accident. The difference in Beelman now is that the Supreme Court recognizes an award for injuries on top of the “statutory” disability pension arising out of the same accident rather than requiring a new, second and separate accident at work.

Chicago Workers Compensation Attorney – http://wc-chicago.com -- 5-24-09