Work comp cases driving businesses out of Illinois

Ann Knef Oct. 6, 2004, 7:42am

A panel of experts are coming together to discuss why jobs are leaving Illinois and what can be done about it.

"Anybody looking at our workers' compensation system would have to agree there is a problem," said Jeff Mays, president of the Illinois Business Roundtable.

Led by Mays and David Fletcher, M.D., director of Safeworks Illinois, the 12th Annual Work Injury Conference will bring a variety of interests, such as industry leaders, lawmakers, doctors and lawyers under one roof to examine the latest in workers' compensation issues and job loss in Illinois. The conference will be held Oct. 14 at Memorial Medical Center's Wedeberg Auditorium in Springfield.

Fletcher suggests that erectile dysfunction cases will be the next wave of compensable injury to hit Illinois employers. For instance, Fletcher has seen cases where workers suffering from back and pelvic injuries have filed claims because pain medication caused impotence.

With the marketing of sexual performance drugs such as Viagra, men are more willing to talk about the subject.

"It catches people's attention when you say these cases are 'popping up' all over," Fletcher said. "But it's true."

Not only does the workers' compensation system need to be fixed, job growth is an issue that needs to be tackled, said Mays.

"Job are leaving Illinois because of rising business costs," said Mays. Those costs include high lawyer involvement, higher than average permanent partial disabilities and increasing medical costs, according to Mays.

"In the aggregate, it could put things over the top for employers considering whether or not to set up in Illinois," he said.

"And with a high lawyer involvement that is truly a drag," Mays said.

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