An all-day hearing about workers' compensation in Illinois left a distinct message – being injured at work, and depending on workers' comp, is no picnic regardless of where you live. People from Illinois and from out of state came to the Capitol to tell members of the House about their travails. “You want to take care of your family, and you've worked hard to take care of your family,” said State Rep. Kelly Burke (D-Evergreen Park) to one witness. “How does it feel to not be able to support them?”
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“It's undescribable, really,” said John Coffell, hurt on the job at a tire factory in Oklahoma. “My wife and I, we have separated, and our kids are living with her father at the moment.”
A former workers' comp commission chairman from Indiana was on hand. A worker injured in that state said anybody with the option to live anywhere but there should take it.
“I'm really appalled when I hear people using Indiana as an example of what Illinois should be,” said Laurie Summers, a health care worker injured while trying to lift a 400-pound patient. “It's not a good example. It's not a good example at all.”
Reflecting on an Illinois witness who was thrown from a forklift, lost a leg, bit off his tongue, and eventually was diagnosed with cancer and MS, the former Indiana leader, G. Terrence Coriden, said a major difference in Indiana is that man's employer would authorize a physician.
Changing the system of workers' compensation in Illinois has been atop business leaders' agenda for years.