nullSPRINGFIELD, IL – The Illinois House has passed a measure sponsored by Senator William Haine (D – Alton) that prohibits workers’ compensation benefits for individuals who commit crimes on the job that result in their injury and the injury or death of another person.

Senate Bill 1147 comes in response to the events of November 23, 2007, when Illinois State Trooper Matt Mitchell killed two teenage Collinsville girls, sisters Kelli and Jessica Uhl, after his squad car crossed the median while he was responding to a call. At the time, Mitchell was driving at a speed in excess of 126 miles per hour and sending emails.  Mitchell later resigned from the Illinois State Police.  He pled guilty to reckless homicide and was sentenced to 30 months probation.

“The Uhl family and our community were appalled that such recklessness could be awarded with a workers’ compensation claim,” Haine stated. “Now we are one step closer to making sure that does not happen again by enshrining this in statute.”

Senate Bill 1147 forbids a person who is injured or killed at work from collecting workers’ compensation benefits if the individual’s injury, disablement, or death occurs while he or she was committing a forcible felony, an aggravated DUI, or reckless homicide that resulted in the death or injury of another person.

“Individuals who engage in such egregious, wanton behavior should not expect compensation for their criminal carelessness,” Haine said.  “The victims’ family has suffered enough, and we must correct this unfortunate loophole in the law to guarantee that no other family in this situation experiences an additional undue burden at a time of indescribable grief.”  

Mitchell filed for workers’ compensation benefits relating to the injuries sustained during the accident.  On February 18, 2011, a workers’ compensation arbitrator denied Mitchell’s claim, stating that Mitchell neglected his duties as an Illinois State Trooper by taking unjustifiable risks. Mitchell has filed for an appeal to the arbitrator’s decision.

“We simply want to ensure that no other family has to be put in this situation,” Haine said.

Senate Bill 1147 awaits the Governor’s action.

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