In Illinois workers’ compensation, two of the more difficult cases involve slip and fall injuries and/or traveling employee injuries:
- For a slip and fall case, one key is that you have to be able to prove that the injured worker was exposed to a risk greater than the general public, i.e., the worker fell in an area that the public does not have access to, which, at the time of injury, has conditions favorable to causing the person to slip and fall, such as ice, plenty of slippery areas, etc.
- For a traveling employee case, it is much easier if the person’s job normally requires travel, such as an investigator that travels to job sites to investigate insurance fraud. If the person’s job does not have a usual connection with travel, such as an office worker, he or she can still end up having a traveling employee work injury situation, but only under certain circumstances. For example, if the office worker’s boss asks him to alter his driving route to work in the morning to pick up an important document at another office, and then the worker has a car accident on the way, then the situation should be covered by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act.
Here are two recent Illinois workers’ compensation cases which touch on these issues:
Rivera v. County of Lake
Mr. Rivera was a special investigator for the State’s Attorney’s Office. Most of his work involved travel to the residences of individuals to serve warrants and summons. He was provided a vehicle by his employer, and he would drive that car home each night. On December 29, 2011, he was getting ready to leave his home to go serve a summons, and he was making trips to and from his car to get various work items into the car, such as his briefcase, laptop, etc. On one of those trips, he was intending to go back inside his home to put on his ballistics vest and obtain his firearm when he slipped and fell on ice in his driveway, suffering an injury to his right leg. The arbitrator ruled that the injured worker was indeed a traveling employee, and that the injury was within the course and scope of his employment.
Burse v. Elementary School District 159
Ms. Burse worked as a literacy coach for a school district. She worked to teach the teachers strategies regarding literacy problems, and she did this three days per week at one school, and two days per week at a second school. On March 5, 2014, she was walking through a parking lot at one of the schools on her way to get lunch, with the intention of meeting with a teacher at the second school soon after, when she slipped and fell on ice, suffering undisclosed injuries. The arbitrator denied benefits for a variety of reasons. No one corroborated the supposed planned meeting at the second school with a teacher, and she failed to notify the principal at the school she was leaving that she intended to go to the second school for a meeting, so she did not meet the criteria for a traveling employee. The parking lot where she fell was open to the general public, and the injured worker was therefore exposed to the same risk of falling as the general public.