Illinois Appellate Court Dismisses Appeal Challenging Award of Attorneys’ Fees in Workers’ Compensation Claim

money and gavelWhether in an Illinois workers’ compensation order or in a civil claim, the court has the power to award attorneys’ fees to different parties based on different procedural rules. Understanding when an award of attorneys’ fees is appropriate is essential to ensuring that you are treated fairly. A recent appellate opinion discusses this procedural rule.

The case arose from an injury that the plaintiff sustained as a construction worker. The plaintiff sought workers’ compensation benefits and filed a civil claim against the employer and a third-party defendant. The parties eventually reached a settlement in the civil action, which seemed to settle the civil claim as well as the workers’ compensation claim. The arbitrator assigned to the workers’ compensation claim approved the settlement and ordered the plaintiff to pay attorneys’ fees to the lawyers who provided him with counsel during the hearings. The claimant appealed the attorneys’ fees award, which was unanimously affirmed on review.

Next, the plaintiff appealed the decision to the civil court. He did not post an appeal bond at the time he filed his petition for review. One of the attorneys provided with attorneys’ fees in the original decision filed a request to quash the appeal on the basis that the failure to post an appeal bond rendered the appeal improperly filed. The circuit court agreed with the attorney and dismissed the worker’s claim for review.

Before turning to the merits of the appeal, the appellate court noted that the plaintiff failed to comply with a number of procedural rules in filing his appeal, including rules regarding which documents must be submitted to the court for review. Next, turning to the merits, the appellate court rejected the employee’s arguments that the bond requirement did not apply to him because he was an employee rather than an employer. The court also rejected the employee’s assertion that the bond requirement did not apply to the order to pay attorneys’ fees because the order was not an award of money. The reviewing court interpreted the statute requiring an appeal bond broadly in rejecting this allegation.

Finally, regarding the underlying order from the workers’ compensation arbitrator requiring the plaintiff to pay attorneys’ fees, the appellate court noted that the arbitrator acted appropriately in issuing the decision and addressing the dispute that arose regarding the payment of attorneys’ fees. Accordingly, the appellate court dismissed the plaintiff’s appeal and upheld the lower court’s decision.

If you have suffered workplace injuries or injuries as a result of another person’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. Understanding the procedural aspects of your claim and how to protect your rights at all times can be complicated, especially if this is your first experience with the legal system. At Therman Law Offices, our compassionate and dedicated team of legal professionals will stand by you throughout the process, assisting you with all of the aspects of your claim. This includes everything from gathering evidence to negotiating with insurance companies. To schedule your free consultation, call us now at 773-545-8849 or contact us online to get started.

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