Arbitrator files injury claim three years after accident -- and three days before deadline

News-DemocratFebruary 25, 2011 

A workers' compensation arbitrator waited nearly three years to file for a permanent disability award for a leg injury, and did so three days before the deadline, according to a copy of her claim.

Kathleen A. Hagan, who hears workers' comp claims in the Chicago area, made her claim on Feb. 10. She listed herself as "K.A. Hagan" on an application form that gave an accident date of Feb. 13, 2008. She continued to work during this time and did not receive paid time off to recover, according to records obtained by the Belleville News-Democrat from the state comptroller's office under the Freedom of Information Act.

"It's on the computer," said Hagan who declined to comment about her injury, stating that all questions must be referred to a spokesperson at Central Management Services, the large state agency that helps process injury claims.

"I'm not going to be accused of insubordination. I'm not going to talk to you," she said.

This is Hagan's second workers' compensation disability claim. She received a tax free settlement of $5,857 in 2004 -- eight years after filing a disability claim in 1996 that stated her job caused her to develop carpal tunnel syndrome. Most disability cases are settled within six months to a year and a half.

Hagan is one of 32 arbitrators statewide whose job it is to decide workers' compensation claims. Eight of them, including Hagan, have filed for or received taxpayer funded injury settlements.

A copy of a public document used by the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission titled "Employee's Notice of Injury," which lists details of how a state employee is hurt on the job, was not available.

"We're carefully reviewing the filing and will defend the state in this matter," said Natalie Bauer, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Attorney General Office, which represents taxpayers when state workers make claims.

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