ASA Law Group's Quarterly Intention
Author: Jordan Ann Lejcar

We ended 2020 with the notion that “what the new year brings to you will depend a great deal on what you bring to the new year.” From closing cases, to navigating arbitrator and commission changes, to brainstorming creative ways to preserve respondents’ rights, ASA took this intention to heart and has brought it all to the new year! Now that Q1 has wrapped, ASA must grow the idea of what we bring to the new year to how we bring it even more:
To accomplish big goals, it comes down to doing the tiny, little things right every single day. While the bigger picture is important, success is found in the daily grind of doing the small things right. Don’t dread it, embrace it.
Shuaib Ahmed (paraphrased)
Think about it. If your goal is to look like Chris Hemsworth in Thor you don’t accomplish it by engaging in one, huge workout on a Saturday – it’s the hundreds of workouts you’ve already done from the time you set your goal until the time you hit it. If your goal is to grow a sustained vegetable garden to feed a family of five, you cannot accomplish that by merely planting a seed – it’s the preparation and research combined with the daily tasks of fertilizing, watering, upkeep, pruning, and harvesting. Nothing happens overnight. There are no “overnight” successes. When we think we see them, we must look back in time and acknowledge the years of tiny, little things done right that allowed the big picture to come to fruition.
So, keep doing the little things and, more importantly, keep doing them right!

ASA Gives Back to the Communities we Live In and Work With
Author: Jordan Ann Lejcar
The Dalai Lama, paraphrasing an African proverb, stated “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.” Well said, Dalai Lama, well said.
As of 2020, there were 7,794,798,739 people in the world. If that doesn’t make you feel small, I don’t know what would! But, imagine if every single person paid it forward just one time. That’s a lot of good. ASA, collectively and individually, is on a mission to do a lot of good.
In Q1, ASA collectively continued its’ monthly community donations:
· Chicago Food Pantry – continued commitment to 750 meals per month;
· Illinois Million Mask Mayday – funding the creation of masks for Illinois distribution.
On a more personal level, ASA families made the following contributions to their individual communities:
· Monthly monetary donations to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
· Monetary donations to the WBEZ.
· Monetary donations to the PJ Library.
· Clothing donations to local children.
· Donations of books, toys, and cake supplies to Sean’s Party Train.
And remember, giving back is as easy as clicking a button! Amazon Smile allows its subscribers to choose any charity to receive .5% of the shipping total on any order. Why not?
· Sign up at Amazon Smile (click link: http://ow.ly/mSE150CrsIm),
· Select charity of your choice (If you don’t have one, try Kids’ Chance of Illinois),
· Shop.
#MoreThanLawyers #PeopleFirst!

Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission Shake Up
Author: Adan Ramirez

This quarter, the Illinois Workers Compensation Commission welcomed two new commissioners! You may recognize the names, as two former arbitrators were promoted: Commissioners Deborah Baker and Christopher Harris.
Commissioner Deborah Baker was admitted to practice law in 2011. She earned her B.A. in political science from the University of New Mexico in 2008. She then went on to earn her J.D., along with a Master of Arts in international and comparative politics, from Loyola University in 2011. Most recently, she was serving as an IWCC arbitrator having been appointed by Governor Pritzker on November 26, 2019.
Commissioner Christopher Harris was admitted to practice law in 2010. He earned his B.A. in political science from the University of Illinois at Champaign Urbana in 2005. He then went on to earn his J.D. from the University Of Illinois College Of Law in 2008. Prior to his appointment as a Commissioner, he also served as an arbitrator since October 25, 2019. 
In their new roles, Commissioner Baker will preside over the Chicago and Waukegan Calls that were previously assigned to former Commissioner Coppoletti while Commissioner Harris will preside over the Springfield and Chicago Calls that had been assigned to former Commissioner McCarthy.
Due to the reappointment process, the commission panels were also revised as follows:
Panel A:   
Public Member: Maria Portela
Labor Member: Thomas Tyrrell
Employer Member: Katherine Doerries
Panel B:   
Public Member: Stephen Mathis
Labor Member: Deborah Baker
Employer Member: Deborah Simpson
Panel C:   
Public Member: Barbara Flores
Labor Member: Marc Parker
Employer Member: Christopher Harris
Lastly, with the two arbitrators being appointed to commissioner spots, there were some shake ups at the arbitrator level. For the month of April, Arbitrator Granada will be covering the Chicago Trial Cycle previously assigned to Commissioner Harris. We will keep all advised as to any TBA dockets and updates!

Illinois Extends the Covid Rebuttable Presumption
Author: Jennifer J. Maxwell

On January 13, 2021, the Illinois General Assembly voted to amend House Bill 4276. The amendments included extending the Covid-19 rebuttable presumption to June 30, 2021 for worker’s compensation cases. Specifically, the amendment states, “the rebuttable presumption created in this subsection applies to all cases tried after June 5, 2020 (the effective date of Public Act 101-633) this amendatory Act of the 101st General Assembly and in which the diagnosis of COVID-19 was made on or after March 9, 2020 and on or before June 30, 2021 (including the period between December 31, 2020 and the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 101st General Assembly) December 31, 2020.”
As you may recall, an employer may rebut the presumption by evidence showing:
o  the employee was working from his or her home, on leave from his or her employment, or some combination thereof, for a period of 14 or more consecutive days immediately prior to the employee’s injury, occupational disease, or period of incapacity resulted from exposure to the COVID-19 virus; or
o   the employer was engaging in and applying to the fullest extent possible or enforcing to the best of its ability industry-specific workplace sanitation, social distancing, and health and safety practices based on updated guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control or Illinois Department of Public Health or was using a combination of administrative controls, engineering controls, or personnel protective equipment to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 to all employees for at least 14 consecutive days prior to the employee’s injury, occupational disease, or period of incapacity resulted from exposure to the COVID-19 virus. For purposes of this subsection “updated” means the guidance in effect at least 14 days prior to the COVID-19 diagnosis; or
o  The employee was exposed to the COVID-19 virus by an alternate source.
When this pandemic began over a year ago, ASA created a step-by-step analysis Cheat Sheet to assist with the evaluation of Covid claims. ASA continues to work with our clients and the industry to address the challenges created by Covid-19 and to help achieve favorable results on any resulting claims. Please contact ASA Law Group at sahmed@asalawgroup.net for another copy of the Cheat Sheet or with any questions you might have about Covid claims!

California 2021 Updates
Author: Talin Maghakian

California has had two notable expansions to the workers’ compensation system in 2021 which we would like to bring to your attention. We will, of course, continue to provide you with more details as they continue to develop. 
This piece of legislation serves to expand the presumption of work-related injury beyond law enforcement and firefighters and into the medical field. SB 213 extends the presumption of compensability to hospital workers for a variety of conditions including musculoskeletal injuries, respiratory diseases, post-traumatic stress disorder, and infectious diseases, including Covid-19. This means that the burden shifts to the defendant employer to demonstrate that the hospital worker’s injury did not arise out of or in the course of employment.
Several notable changes were enacted to the Official Medical-Legal Fee Schedule with respect to some med-legal services in order to streamline the billing process and eliminate the hourly provisions. CCR§9795 established new fees for medical-legal evaluations, initial evaluations, supplemental reports, follow-up evaluations, missed appointments, medical-legal testimony, and review of surveillance. These are now submitted as flat fees.
Does the new SB 213 or Fee Schedule changes affect your claims? Reach out to the California office for guidance!
Author: Alexa Venditti

Here at ASA, we are always looking for ways to distinguish ourselves from the rest. Accomplishing that through content in our quarterly newsletter is no exception!
As a new addition for 2021, we’ve decided to feature an ASA pet each quarter so that you get to know the furry friends behind the humans of the firm! 2020 brought its challenges, but our pets became more important than ever as our at-home companions and coworkers. We celebrate them in this new installation to the newsletter!

Roxy is Alexa’s 2-year-old canine rescue. She found her way to the Venditti family in April 2019, having previously been cared for by Wrightway Rescue in Morton Grove. While genetic testing has never been done to decipher her breeds, Roxy seems to be part German Shepard due to her coat coloring. Alexa and her husband, Nick, also guess that she is part hound breed, perhaps a Beagle or Rhodesian Ridgeback.
Roxy is a mainstay in Alexa’s family. She is always happy when family members come to visit, especially if presents are involved, and is always ready to play tug-of-war or fetch (or keep away, in her case). She rarely loses! She is second-to-none as a watchdog, reprimanding anyone (or anything) that walks past her front window. At the end of the day, she will snuggle on the couch to watch a movie and is always waiting with apology kisses if she does something wrong, making it impossible to stay mad at her! She will continue to be a big part of the family for years to come.

February 10, 2019
50 pounds
Being outside, sunbathing, dog parks, eating, sleeping in
Car rides, bikes, strollers, garbage cans that fall over in the wind
Fave Foods:              
Whipped cream, peanut butter, chicken, vanilla ice cream
Fave Toy:                  
Santa Clause squeaky toy (that has to stay out year round!)
Fave Spot:                 
Mom or Dad’s spots on the couch (even when they are trying to sit there)
Affectionate, excited, cuddly
Fave People:             
Everyone in the family!

ASA's Book Club Q1 Read: The Art of Impossible by Steven Kotler
Author: Jennifer J. Maxwell and Jordan Ann Lejcar

ASA’s Book Club choice for Q1 was The Art of Impossible by Steven Kotler, one of the world’s leading experts on human performance. In this book, Kotler provides a “how-to” manual for peak performance based on cutting-edge neuroscience and over 20 years of research.
Kotler says, “the most important thing that The Art of Impossible does for peak performance is systematize the entire body of scientific knowledge.” The book’s first six chapters examines our motivation skills, which is the set of skills that gets us into the game. The next seven chapters focus on learning skills ,or the set of skills that allows us to continue to play. The final four chapters center around creativity skills, or the set of skills that enable us to steer. Kotler wraps up his masterpiece with the final set of skills: flow skills, or “how we turbo boost the results beyond all reasonable expectation.”
ASA’s President and Owner, Shuaib Ahmed, had the following to say about his Q1 Choice, The Art of Impossible: the book “dissects the human brain and what makes high achievers.” He found that the book highlights that each person has a two-part system: the thoughts which inspire emotions and the physical self that carries out that thought and emotion. Unlike the automatic nature of other creatures, though, humans are unique in that our brain, between the thought and physical action, has an ability to pause. Shuaib’s take-away? When you’re able to recognize and exercise that part of the brain and take advantage of the pause (decide in that space what you will allow yourself to do), that’s where your power lies.
The Art of Impossible is yet another reference to help people find and keep their power - to perform at their peak. If you are looking towards peak performance, then The Art of the Impossible may just be the guide you’re looking for. 

Introducing Our Newest Team Member: Robert Semones
Author: Jordan Ann Lejcar

On April 1, ASA proudly welcomed a new addition to the California Crew: Robert Semones!
Robert comes to us as a 15-year workers’ compensation support staff veteran, starting his career as a TPA file clerk in 2003. After a few years, he took a break from workers’ compensation but found his way back in 2008, working his way up to legal assistant case in chief at a prior firm.
Robert enjoys playing in men’s leagues for basketball and softball, enjoys golf, and excels at “frolfing.” Him and his wife, Marissa, spend most of their time chasing after their two energetic boys (2 and 4 years old), taking trips to Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, and rooting for the Dodgers and Rams. He also roots for the Oklahoma Sooners, but don’t let that stop you from giving him a chance (the author of this introduction is an avid Florida Gators fan, and might still just be a tad upset about the outcome of the 2020 Cotton Bowl)!
When asked about his favorite aspect of working in workers’ compensation, he stated he loved meeting new people, getting to know them, and building a rapport. After spending just a few minutes getting to know him on the phone, I can tell this is true. So, welcome to Robert - we know you are going to like him just as much as we already do!

Stay Connected and Updated with ASA Law Group
You can follow ASA Law Group on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter (links below).
Please see our website, asalawgroup.net, for past newsletters and press releases. Also, if you would like for us to present on any WC topic for your team, please feel free to reach out to President and Owner, Shuaib Ahmed, directly at sahmed@asalawgroup.net.