Illinois Appellate Court Upholds Denial of Workers’ Compensation Benefits, Finding that the Injury Did Not Arise from Claimant’s Job Duties

Suffering an injury at work is one of the most stressful, inconvenient, and difficult experiences that you can face, even if the injury is relatively minor. One of the most vital aspects of ensuring that you receive the full amount of benefits that you deserve is to show that the injuries you suffered arose out of your job duties and were part of the course and scope of your employment. A seasoned Illinois workers’ compensation lawyer can help you ensure that you put your best case forward. As a recent appellate opinion shows, failing to show that the injury arose from your job duties can create serious issues when it comes to recovering benefits.

The claimant initiated a claim for workers’ compensation benefits after she suffered an injury while working at a high school. In her claim, she alleged that she sustained injuries to her right hip, shoulder, and face after falling on wet pavement while walking to the parking lot during her lunch break. An arbitrator reviewed the claim, determined that the injuries occurred during the scope and course of her job duties, and awarded the claimant temporary total disability benefits.

The high school appealed the arbitrator’s ruling, and the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission overturned the grant of benefits, finding that the injuries were not results of a risk related to the claimant’s job duties. The Commission stated that the claimant had failed to prove that the injuries arose out of her employment. The claimant appealed the determination to a trial court, which affirmed the decision to deny benefits. The claimant appealed.

On review, the Illinois Appellate Court reviewed ample case law involving factually similar situations. Ultimately, the appellate court upheld the Commission’s decision to deny benefits, finding that the injuries sustained by the claimant were not results of a “hazardous condition” on the job site. Instead, the appellate court noted that the injury resulted from slipping on pavement that became wet after rainfall. To award the claimant benefits would create a precedent under which employers could be held liable whenever an employee suffered injuries as a result of exposure to natural elements or some other natural occurrence, even when the nature of the employee’s job duties does not result in a heightened risk of being injured as a result of those natural elements.

The appellate court also noted that injuries resulting from an “Act of God,” like tornadoes or lightning, are only eligible for benefits when the nature of the employee’s job requires him or her to face a heightened risk of exposure. Applied to the present claim, the appellate court concluded that the claimant faced the same risk of traversing wet pavement as the general public.

If you have been injured while on the job, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. At Therman Law Offices, our work injury lawyers have assisted numerous Chicago and other Illinois residents with navigating the complex and often daunting claims process. Insurance companies may seem like they want to help you, but they often do not have your best interests in mind. We will stand by you through each phase of the claims process and ensure that you receive the full amount of benefits that you deserve. To schedule your free consultation, call us at 773-545-8849 or contact us online to get started.

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