In Illinois, the Workers’ Compensation Arbitrator is the judge who decides the case if it goes to trial.

The Arbitrator is hired by the State of Illinois. The Arbitrator is a neutral. In other words, the judge cannot favor either the insurance company or the injured worker.

The Arbitrator may be a lawyer, but does not have to be. To become an Arbitrator you must pass a test, and be selected through the Governor’s office. Once you become an arbitrator it is almost a lifetime job.

Commissioners are the next level up from Arbitrators. Commissioners act as a reviewing body for appeals from Arbitrator’s decisions. Three Commissioners serve on what is called a panel to hear appeals.

In contrast to Arbitrators, only one Commissioner on a panel is a neutral, one Commissioner is a labor representative, and one Commissioner is a business representative.

Commissioners do not have to pass a test. They must be a lawyer, or have a labor relations background. They are appointed by the Governor, and confirmed by the Senate. They serve for a specific term, and can be reappointed.