When you have 45 years of experience handling Illinois work injury and personal injury cases, you have heard about every kind of injury and mechanism of injury possible, and yet, there are always new ways I hear of injuries happening every day.  A recent Illinois workers’ compensation case decision demonstrates how, within the confines of the law and the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, along with a good workers’ compensation attorney, even the strangest case has a chance.

In the case of Ronald Kuzma v. U.S. Steel, on June 20, 2011:

  • Mr. Kuzma was working for U.S. Steel in the maintenance services and utilities department.
  • He was attempting to find materials in a fenced in yard area for use in the construction of a storage crate.
  • This yard area was the property of his employer.
  • When he reached into a box, a cat jumped out of a crate, surprising Mr. Kuzma.  He turned around and struck his left arm on the crate.
  • He was ultimately diagnosed with a torn left rotator cuff, along with left supraspinatus and upper infraspinatus tendon issues, and biceps tendinopathy.
  • He hired a workers’ comp attorney, who filed his case on January 31, 2012.

The arbitrator found in favor of Mr. Kuzma.  The location of the injury was under total control of the employer, and that area had a known issue of stray cats, so therefore, the risk that Mr. Kuzma would be surprised by an animal was greater than the risk of the general public.  The arbitrator awarded medical expenses of $35,873, temporary total disability (TTD) for 26 and 5/7 weeks, and permanent disability for 15 percent loss of use of the left arm under Section 8(e)10 of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act.

The arbitrator’s decision was reviewed, affirmed and adopted by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission on August 21, 2015, which was over four years after the original date of accident, and over three years after his attorney filed the case.  This obviously shows that the opposing attorney fought the case to bring it to that point.  Yet again, we see just how long a case can take in the Illinois Workers’ Compensation system.  The time it takes varies from case to case, and it can take years in some instances, but with an experienced work comp attorney, the chance of success for the injured worker is much better in the long run.

Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, Temporary Total Disability (TTD)