Arnold Robert Weber.

Workmen's compensation in Illinois (Volume BEBR Faculty Working Paper no. 25) online

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THElI3i,ni(y0f T^i.-




The Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations was establisht-d in 1946
to "inquire faithfully, honestly, and impartially into labor-management
problems of all types, and seeurc the faets which will lay the foundation
for future progress in the whole field of labor relations."

The Institute seeks to serve all the people of Illinois by promoting
general understanding of our social and economic problems, as well as by
providing specific services to groups directly concerned with labor and
industrial relations.

The Bulletin series is designed to implement these aims by periodi-
cally presenting information and ideas on subjects of interest to persons
active in the field of labor and industrial relations. While no effort is
made to treat the topics exhaustively, an attempt is made to answer ques-
tions raised about the subjects under discussion. The presentation is non-
technical for general and popular use.

Additional copies of this Bulletin and others listed on the back cover
are available for distribution.

RoBBEN W. Fleming Barbara D. Dennis

Director Editor



Volume 53, Number 17; October, 1955. Published seven times each month by the Univer-
sity of Illinois. Entered as second-class matter December 11, 1912. at the post office at Urbana,
Illinois, under the Act of August 24, 1912. Office of Publication. 207 Administration Building,
Urbana, Illinois.

3 s ; ,


^^^^' ^^ by Arnold R. Weber


( For Employers, Supervisors, Stewards, and Workers )

To Find the Answer Check These Pages :





If lu- is Is his coverage automatic under the

hazardous enterprise provisions? 7-9

Did he elect voluntary coverage? 9

If he is not How does an employer elect voluntary coverage? 9

How can an employer insure his

liability under the Act? 9, 45

What can an employer do if he is refused

insurance by commercial insurance companies? 45


Who is injured? Does an "employee-employer" relationship exist? ... .9-11

How did the Did the injury "arise out of and in the course

accident happen? of employment" ? 1 3- 1 6

Was it "'accidental"? 11-13

Has the injury \V'as the injury reported to the employer within

been reported? the legal time limit? 7, 13, 28

Has the claim for compensation benefits been

made within the time limits allowed by the Act? ...7, 28
If agreement on payment of benefits is reached be-
tween the injured employee and his employer, have
the necessary forms been submitted to the Industrial
Commission? 1 6, 27, 28

What was What is the extent of disability arising from

the injury? the injury? Is it temporary total, permanent

partial, permanent total, or fatal? I6-25

. Does the injury involve partial or complete loss of

use of any "specific member" like an arm or leg? .22-23

Has the accident resulted in disfigurement

of the employee? 25

Has the accident resulted in a hernia? 13

Is there any '"pre-existing" c<jndition? 12-13


Hou arc What was the workers average weekly or

benehts annual wage before he was injured? I6-21

computed. jf j^g employee is married, does he ha\e

children under the age of 18? How many? I6-20

. Are any other persons dependent upon the

injured employee for support ? 1 8-2 1

What are the time limits on the payment

of benefits? 19, 20-21, 22, 24

When can benehts be paid in one lump sum?. 32-33, 40-4i

What if a fatally injured employee leaves

no dependent sur\i\ors? 19

How about



What arc the benefits?

For temporary total disability? 19-21

For permanent partial disability? 21-22

. For specific losses? 22-23

For permanent total disability? 23-24

For disfigurement? 25

What kind of medical care is available

under the Act ? 25-26, 43-44, 46-47

Can an employee select his own doctor? 25

What is the policy concerning operations
or surgery ?

25-26, 43, 44



What arc
the first

Appeal of




Should legal help be sought?

Has an application for adjustment of claim

been filed with the Industrial Commission?

Can disputed claims be adjusted by

compromise settlements? 32-33

What does the arbitrator do? 28-29, 33-34

How can an employer or employee appeal

the decision of an arbitrator? 34-36

Has the petition for review of the arbitrator's deci-
sion been filed within the allowable time limit? 35

Have the necessary forms and records for appeal

been submitted to the Industrial Commission? 35

How can the employer or employee appeal the
decision of the Industrial Commission?

Appeal of


decision Have the necessary forms and records for appeal

been submitted to the appropriate court within

the allowable time limit? 36

What kind of aid is available to employees who

do not have the money to meet the expenses in-
volved in proceedings before the Industrial Com-
mission or appeals to the courts? 39

Reopening When can an employer or employee request

a claim reconsideration of a previous award or vol-
untary settlement? 21, 24, 37-39

What steps must be taken to reopen a case? 37-39


What is the Special Fund? 19, 24

What is the "Poor Person's" provision? 39

Are there penalties for delaying a case? 39-40


What should be known about lump sum payments? 40-41

What should be known about the use of lawyers? 29-30, 41-43

What are the problems of medical care? 43-44

What should be known about insurance companies? 45

How is the Act amended ? 45-46

Does workmen's compensation cover rehabilitation? 46-47

How does workmen's compensation relate to industrial safety? 47-48



During eveiy working day in Illinois, more than 200 workers are reported
as injured on the job — more than 25 for each work hour.^ Most of
these people will receixe workmen's compensation.

What is workmen's compensation? Who is eligible? How does an
injured worker make a claim? Which employers are covered? I'his
Bulletin is written for those in the State of Illinois who need or may
need to know the answers to these questions.

But first, why do we have workmen's compensation? The answer is
quite simple. Industrial injuries are costly. They are costly to the injured
worker in physical and mental well-being and in loss of earnings. They
are expensive for the businessman in the loss of key men, time, and pro-
duction. They are costly to society in both economic and humanitarian

Workmen's compensation, by itself, cannot prevent injuries, but it
may help reduce the number of injuries by encouraging employers to
introduce safety programs. In a more direct fashion, workmen's compen-
sation eases the lot of the injured worker and his family and outlines
the extent of the employer's legal liability.


In the nineteenth century, an injured worker could sue his employer for
damages. He had little chance of collecting, however, because it was
generally up to him, under "common law," to prove that the accident ( 1 )
occurred in the performance of his duties, (2) was not caused by his own
negligence or the negligence of another employee, and (3) was incurred
while he was assuming an extraordinar)- risk of which he was unaware. -

Under these circumstances, few workers ever received damages for
work-connected injuries. Many of the cases that did reach the courts
were subjected to long, costly legal action which the worker could ill
afford. In addition, the potential award was always uncertain because
there were no rules relating an award to the extent of injury.

Workmen's compensation, as we know it, started in Europe. Ger-
many had an early system under Bismarck. • England's first real work-
men's compensation act was passed in 1897 following public investiga-
tions and working class agitation.*

In this country by the end of the nineteenth century many states had

* Prepared under the supcr\ision of Richard C. Wilcock, associate professor of
labor and industrial relations.

passed laws related to worker injuries. These early laws made employers
liable for industrial accidents only in special cases. During the same
period, however, several states appointed committees to investigate reme-
dies for the growing problem of industrial injury.

In 1910, New York made the first real attempt to build a compre-
hensive system of workmen's compensation. Although the law was
promptly declared unconstitutional, it paved the way for other efforts.
The turning point came in 1917 when the United States Supreme Court
upheld the New York and Iowa laws as legitimate exercise of the states'
"police powers."'' Once the legal groundwork was laid, workmen's com-
pensation spread rapidly to other states. By 1921, forty-two states and
all the territories had compensation acts. The other six states adopted
such legislation between 1921 and 1948.''


Workmen's compensation, like unemployment compensation and old age
and survivor's insurance, is a type of "social insurance." It represents a
particular concept of responsibility. Considerations of blame and negli-
gence are no longer prime factors as they were under the common law
system. Instead workmen's compensation embodies the view that the
injured worker should be compensated for loss of income regardless of
blame. The cost of industrial injury becomes the responsibility of the
employer in particular and society in general.

Workmen's compensation is designed to replace the extreme variation
of common law awards with a modest and more certain schedule of
compensation administered by a special government agency. However,
the courts still stand in the background as review agencies.

Indirectly, workmen's compensation aims to ( 1 ) rehabilitate the
injured worker and return him to society as a useful, productive member
and (2) encourage the employer to develop safety programs to reduce
accident frequency. When compensation is charged to the employer,
it becomes a significant factor in his over-all production cost.


Illinois was among the first ten states to enact workmen's compensation
legislation. The first act in Illinois was passed on June 10, 1911, and
went into effect May 1, 1912.' The law provided that an employer had
the right to elect coverage, but it also stated that the usual common law
defenses would not be available to employers in certain hazardous in-
dustries if they did not elect coverage. In 1917, following the landmark
Supreme Court decision, coverage was inade compulsory for extra-
hazardous industries.

The law was completely rewritten in 1913 and again in 1951, but
basically it remains unchanged.** It has been rephrased in more simple
and direct language, and some provisions have been changed as a result
of court decisions interpreting the Act.

Benefits have been increased periodically by separate amendments —
most recently in 1955. In 1913, a schedule providing for loss of use of
specific parts of the body was introduced. A 1917 amendment gave
added benefits to injured workers if they had dependent children. In
1925, medical benefits were linked directly with the need for treating
the injury.''

The original Act provided for administration by a three-man Board
of Arbitrators. This was changed to an Industrial Board of three mem-
bers in 1913. In 1917, the board was enlarged to five, and the admin-
istrative agency's name was changed to the Industrial Commission. The
Commission operates as a part of the Illinois Department of Labor. In
addition to the Workmen's Compensation Act, the Commission is respon-
sible for administering the Illinois Occupational Disease Act, under which
covered employees may receive compensation for disability proven to
result from certain occupational diseases. Headquarters of the Illinois
Industrial Commission are at 160 North LaSalle Street, Chicago 1.


The foundation of the workmen's compensation system in Illinois is, of
course, the law itself. The purpose of the Illinois Act, as specified in
its preamble, is "to promote the general welfare of the people of this
State by providing compensation for accidental injuries or death suf-
fered in the course of employment.""


When a worker is injured on the job, he is eligible to receive workmen's
compensation if the business is covered by the Act and if there is an
employee-employer relationship. The employee who is injured must
notify his employer not later than 45 days after the accident occurs. In
addition, he may lose his right to compensation unless he files his appli-
cation for compensation with the Industrial Commission within a year
after either the date of the accident or the date of the last compensation


An employer whose business is considered extra-hazardous does not have
the right to elect or reject coverage. ^^ Coverage is compulsory for those
employers whose business involves —

1. Erection, maintenance, or demolition of any structure.

2. Construction, excavation, or electrical work.

3. Carriage by land, water, or aerial service. This includes any loading or
unloading related to the "carriage," and the distribution of the com-
modity by horsedrawn or motor vehicle. However, there must be more
than two employees involved.

4. Operation of any warehouse or general storehouse.

5. Mining, surface mining, or quarrying.

6. Manufacture or use of explosive materials, molten metal, injurious
gases, inflammable fluids or vapors, or corrosive acids.

7. Use of sharp-edged cutting tools.

8. Regulation by statute or ordinance concerning the use of machinery and
appliances or safety of the employees and the public.

9. Work in connection with laying out or improving subdivisions of tracts
of land.

10. Treatment of timber or wood with creosote or other preservatives.

The State and its political subdivisions also are automatically cov-
ered. Excluded from automatic coverage, however, are farmers or their
employees or those who lease land for such purposes "no matter what
kind of work or service is being done or rendered."

In deciding specific cases, the courts have described these general
classifications more fully.

For example, coverage is automatic for all employees of a firm engaged in
"extra-hazardous" activities even though only some of the employees are
actually involved in the more dangerous work tasks.'" If an employer owns
two separate businesses, however, they must be treated individually. The
fact that one is "extra-hazardous" does not insure coverage of the other
one automatically."

In addition, these dangerous activities must be in the "usual course"
of the employer's business.

For example, if a real estate agent hires a man in a single instance to
repair or tear down a building, the employee is not covered under the
automatic provisions of the Act. However, if this same real estate agent
customarily hires a construction crew to repair such units, the firm would
probably be automatically covered by the Act.

This highlights the fact that a business does not have to be specif-
ically listed as "extra-hazardous" to come under the compulsory provi-
sions of the Act. Considerable discretion is given the Industrial
Commission and courts in applying this section. If a certain business is
judged to be "extra-hazardous" and is not specifically excluded, then
coverage becomes compulsory.^*

Thus the automatic provisions of the Act arc quite ilcxible.

Employees of a motion picture theater were covered automatically because
the theater was affected by an ordinance requiring a fireproof projection
room. And employees in a sawmill owned by a farmer were included auto-
matically under the Act because the sawmill was operated as a separate

business, not related to exempted farm operations.'"


If an employer is not included within these extra-hazardous classifica-
tions, he may choose to be covered. To do this he must file written elec-
tion of coverage with the Industrial Commission or directly insure his
liability under the Act with an authorized insurance company. Once a
notice is filed with the Commission, the employer is bound to continue
under the Act until January of the next year. If election has been made
by obtaining insurance, the employer is covered until the policy expires
or is cancelled.^''

Over time, other groups besides farmers have been exempted from
the coverage of the law. Domestic servants, the self-employed, inter-state
railroad and maritime workers are generally not included in the Illinois
workmen's compensation system. The latter two groups are covered,
however, by similar federal legislation. Although employees of the State
and political subdivisions are included under the automatic provisions,
the issue has been brought to court in several cases with varying deci-
sions.^' The State government has elected coverage, however.

Approximately three out of four workers in Illinois are covered by
the Act.^® Most manufacturing firms are subject to automatic coverage
because of ordinances or statutes regulating the use of machinery or re-
lating to industrial safety. Most other employers have elected coverage
to bring their liability under the provisions of the workmen's compensa-
tion system.


The fact that his firm is included under the Workmen's Compensation
Act automatically or by election is not sufficient to guarantee coverage
for an injured worker. There must also be an "employee-employer" re-
lationship. In any disputed case, the employee seeking compensation
must prove the existence of this relationship.

The terms "employee" and "employer" have been broadly defined
by the law as guides to further interpretation. Thus, an "employer"
includes "every person, firm, public or private corporation . . . who has
any person in service or under contract for hire . . . ," and "employee"

is defined as "every person in the service of another under any contract of
hire. . . ."^^ The employment contract may be oral or written.

In determining whether an employee-employer relationship exists,
a vital factor is the element of control one party has over the other. If
an employer controls both the type of work done and the results of the
work, an employee-employer relationship will exist in most cases. With
this principle as a guide, the payment of wages is not a necessary condi-
tion, nor does the payment of wages always prove the existence of an
employee-employer relationship.^-'

The question is whether the individual is an "independent contrac-
tor" or an "employee." An independent contractor generally is considered
to be a person who undertakes work for another but determines the
specific methods himself.

An electrician, who was installing fixtures in a building, fell off a ladder
and broke his leg. He was not compensated because he was considered an
independent contractor. He had been hired by the owner of the building
for a given task, without particular regard to the methods used."' However,
a house-mover assisting in moving a boiler for a public utility company at
an hourly rate of pay was compensated when injured on the job. He was
considered an employee."

What happens if an employee is "loaned"?

Suppose a worker was hired by one company but loaned to another for a
particular job. In most cases, the employer who borrowed the employee is
responsible for compensation if the employee is injured while performing
this job."'

Coverage of employees of the State and its political subdivisions,
where it exists, generally applies to all employees except "officials." In
most cases, an "official" is one whose position has been specified by
statute or ordinance.

Thus, the injury of a city bridge-tender was uncompensated because his
job was created by an ordinance. On the other hand, a policeman in
another city was compensated for injury because there was no ordinance
creating his position and elevating him to the status of an official."*

What happens if interstate commerce is involved in the employee's
work? The important factor is the place of contract — that is, where the
employee was hired.

A watchman engaged in guarding a trucking van loaded with goods for
shipment solely within the State may be covered by the Illinois law. But
an inspector working with trains traveling between states may have to seek
compensation under federal legislation if injured. If an employee is hired
in Illinois but works in Indiana, generally he may seek compensation under


the Illinois law even though he was injured in Indiana. His case probably
would be strengthened further if he lived in Illinois even though he
crossed the State line to work.""

There is one exception to the employee-employer relationship rule.

If an employee is injured while working for a subcontractor who has not
insured his liability under the Act, the general contractor who hired the
subcontractor can be held liable for compensation. He becomes the
"employer" under the law.^

Detcmiination of an employee-employer relationship usually falls
on the shoulders of the Industrial Commission. Each case that comes
before it is viewed in the light of its own particular circumstances, and
generalizations are difficult. The Commission, however, decides each case
in a manner which it feels is consistent with the law. The courts gener-
ally have upheld decisions of the Commission.


The Workmen's Compensation Act specifies that accidental injuries
arising out of and in the course of employment are subject to compensa-
tion awards. In practice, it is exceedingly difficult to draw a fine line
between accidental and nonaccidental injuries, because accidents gener-
ally must be traced to a particular occurrence at a specific time and

If a painter falls from a ladder and breaks his leg, the circumstances of
the case usually can be pinpointed. Barring other complications, the injury
can be considered "accidental" and compensated promptly. However, if a
steel worker develops a strained back not traceable to any particular task
he performs, the case is not as simple. The employee, or his representa-
tives, must prove that the injury was "accidental."

Although an injur)' is most firmly established as accidental if traced
to a definite occurrence, one should not rule out other causes.-"* For
example, the fact that a specific time of injury cannot be established does
not automatically prevent compensation. The steel worker's strained
back, upon investigation, may be the result of repeated lifting of heavy
loads over a long period of time.

Many employees work under conditions of extreme heat or cold.
Heat prostration or frostbite may be ruled accidental if the employee is
subjected to a substantially greater hazard than the general public.

Thus, the widow of an employee who died from heat prostration while
working in a boiler room on a hot day was awarded full compensation.
The outside temperature created discomfort for the general public, but

constituted an added hazard to the boiler room employee — leading to his
accidental death.""'


When an employer hires an employee, he cannot assume that the worker
is "perfect" or "normal." Thus, an employee can receive compensation
for aggravation of a pre-existing injur)^ Within the framework of work-
men's compensation, however, it usually must be shown that the pre-
existing condition was aggravated in close connection with an injury
on the job.

A diabetic employee stubbed his toe while at work. His foot became in-
fected, and eventually he died as a result of the infection. Full compen-
sation was awarded because it was ruled that the infection and subsequent
death stemmed from aggravating his pre-existing condition. On the other

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Online LibraryArnold Robert WeberWorkmen's compensation in Illinois (Volume BEBR Faculty Working Paper no. 25) → online text (page 1 of 6)