In the recent Illinois workers’ compensation case of Kenneth Wright v. FCN Publishing Co. and State of Illinois, as Ex-Officio Custodian of the Injured Workers’ Benefit Fund:
- Mr. Wright was a staff photographer at the Final Call Newspaper, which is owned by FCN Publishing Co.
- His job duties included covering events in the news of Chicago, Illinois, the rest of the United States, and around the world.
- He would have to travel to locations to take pictures, and most of the time, this involved taking public transportation, which was usually the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority)
- On January 7, 2009, he signed in to the office, found a story to cover, obtained approval from his supervisor, then signed out of the office.
- He took two CTA buses to get to the scene.
- While boarding the second bus, he slipped and fell when the bus started moving, causing his right leg to slip forward, leaving his left leg behind him. His left knee bent under him, and he struck his back and left arm on the bus floor.
- He testified that he felt “unbearable pain” in the left leg, shoulder and wrist, and he was not able to get up.
- On March 20, 2009, he had an MRI of his left leg, which showed a full thickness tear of the distal quadriceps tendon, a sprain of the medial collateral ligament, and joint effusion.
- On March 26, 2009, he had left knee surgery, followed by over one year of physical therapy in which he had to learn how to walk again.
- On September 24, 2009, he hired a workers’ compensation attorney and filed the claim with the IWCC (Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission).
- He was eventually ruled to be at MMI (maximum medical improvement).
- He did not receive any pay or benefits from the employer or their insurance carrier from September 4, 2009 to April 29, 2010.
On September 5, 2014, the arbitrator ruled the following:
- There was an employee-employer relationship between the parties.
- He was a traveling employee, and his work required travel in order to meet his job demands.
- All medical treatment was reasonable and necessary.
- He was owed 34 weeks of TTD (temporary total disability) for the period from September 4, 2009 to April 29, 2010 because during that period, he was either off work per doctors, or on light duty, which the employer never accommodated.
- The arbitrator awarded 25 % loss of use of the left leg, and 2 % loss of the person as a whole with respect to the left shoulder.
The employer’s attorneys fought the case to the next level, and finally, on August 27, 2015, the Commission affirmed and adopted the decision of the arbitrator. From start to finish, his workers’ comp case took about six years to reach the end, but it was worth the fight.
With strong representation in Illinois workers’ compensation, an injured worker has a chance to win in the end.