In a case involving a lengthy appeal of the Commission’s decision to award permanent partial disability (“PPD”) benefits to a claimant, the Appellate Court affirmed the decision of the Circuit Court, which in turn had affirmed the Commission’s aforesaid PPD award to the claimant. See Claimant’s neck injury warrants 25% PPD award under § 8(d)2. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Law Bulletin, Volume 29, Issue 11, August 13, 2021, p. 4. The case discussed in the article, Midwest Power Source Inc. v. (McGuire, Roy), IWCC, 29 ILWCLB 114 (Ill. App. Ct. 4th Dist. 2021), involved the aforesaid claimant – an laborer – who had injured his neck twice within the space of four months, first in January 2017 (when he swung a sledgehammer in an attempt to loosen and remove a piston from something), and again in May 2017 (when the claimant endeavored to slide 100 lbs. worth of engine parts into a dumpster, using a skid). While the Commission found that the claimant’s initial January accident could not be proven as having taken place, the second accident four months later in May 2017 was deemed to have occurred, and it was found to have been serious enough to result in the claimant receiving a PPD award of 25% loss of the person (or man) as a whole (“MAW”). The employer appealed, but the Circuit Court affirmed the Commission’s decision, as did the Appellate Court (in an unpublished opinion). In awarding the claimant PPD benefits, the Commission focused on two of the five factors contained within Section 8.1b(b) of the Illinois Worker’s Compensation Act (or “WCA”) that are used to determine the level or extent of an injured worker’s disability: the occupation of the claimant and the evidence that he was disabled. In terms of the claimant’s occupation, the Commission noted that the claimant’s old job position had already been filled by someone else, while he was off work and undergoing treatment for his neck injuries, and furthermore, that the claimant had subsequently found other, less physically demanding employment. Also, while medical experts had testified that the claimant had recovered from his injuries to the point where he could return to work full duty, and also that the claimant himself had stated that he felt as good as he had prior to his work accidents, the Commission still determined that the claimant was unable to perform the same job duties that he had before, due to the fact that the range of motion in the claimant’s neck was still limited. Thus, despite the testimony of both the claimant himself and the medical consultants, both the Circuit Court and the Appellate Court held that the claimant was still physically hindered enough by his work injuries, to warrant the aforesaid PPD award of 25% MAW to the claimant by the Commission. This case is illustrative of the concept that, if there is enough independent evidence to support a decision by the Commission, the decision will be affirmed on appeal, even testimony is offered that is contrary to said evidence.
Claimant’s neck injury warrants 25% PPD award under § 8(d)2. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Law Bulletin, Volume 29, Issue 11, August 13, 2021, p. 4.