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Withholding Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Leandro Alhambra
Work injury claim denied

My Employer is Withholding Workers’ Compensation Benefits for No Reason – What Can I Do?

Penalties and Attorney Fees

Throughout my career there have been many times where my client has done everything right in pursuing their workers’ compensation benefits –timely notice of the injury was given, the worker promptly sought medical attention, was compliant with the doctor’s recommended course of treatment, and off-work slips were timely submitted to the employer. And yet the insurance company still refused to pay weekly TTD benefits and/or denied medical treatment! 

What recourse does the injured worker have when benefits are denied without a reasonable explanation?

First and foremost the injured workers’ attorney must file a 19b/8a Petitioner for an Immediate Hearing. In addition to an emergency hearing the Petitioner can also file for penalties against the employer for their unreasonable delay payment of benefits. The Illinois Worker’s Compensation Act provides for the following penalties:   

  • Section19(l) is a late fee and applies whenever the employer fails, neglects or refuses to make payment or unreasonably delays payment without good cause.  Section 19(l) provides a $30 per day penalty for each day that weekly TTD benefits are unreasonably withheld, subject to a $10,000 maximum. 
  • Section 19(k) authorizes a penalty of 50% of the amount payable at the time of an award.
  • Section 16 provides for attorneys’ fees and costs. Both Sections 19(k) and 16 apply are assessed when the employer unreasonably or vexatiously delays payment, for an intentional underpayment of compensation or where proceedings have been instituted by the one liable to pay the compensation, which do not present a real controversy, but are merely frivolous or for delay.

Generally, an employer’s reasonable and good-faith challenge to liability does not warrant penalties.

Thus, penalties are typically not awarded when there are conflicting medical opinions between the Petitioner’s treating physician and the employer’s IME physician, even if it turns out that the IME physician is wrong. However, the Commission has awarded penalties against the Employer for the following conduct—

  • Failure to provide proper notice of termination of TTD.
  • Failure to timely pay a non-disputed award of benefits.
  • Failure to immediately pay a statutory amputation benefits.
  • Deliberate delay in payment of benefits.
  • Deliberate underpayment of benefits.

Fortunately, the Act provides penalties for bad faith conduct of employer/insurance companies.

If your checks are consistently late or withheld unreasonably, you should talk to an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer, who can help you recover penalties which you are entitled to. 

For more information visit our Workers’ Compensation Overview page. 

If you have questions please call or submit a CONTACT FORM today. 

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