Illinois work comp - smoke break injuries

It’s pretty much common sense that if you hurt yourself while working, you should receive Illinois workers’ compensation benefits. You lift a box and feel a pain in your back, that’s clearly a work related injury. What’s not necessarily common sense is that if you injure yourself while on a break you can also receive benefits.

Under the personal comfort doctrine, Illinois courts have found that an employer benefits when employees get rest time like smoke breaks, lunch, etc. So if you have an injury on one of those breaks, you might have a case if something about the job increases your risk for injury.

I just re-read what I wrote and it sounds confusing to even me so let me give you an example. Let’s say you are given 15 minutes a day to smoke, drink coffee, surf the internet, etc. You go outside of your building to smoke and while walking back in you slip on some ice and twist your knee. Even though you weren’t doing your job when you got hurt, you were at an increased risk of injury because of the ice. If that happened to you, you’d be eligible for benefits.

On the other hand, if you were smoking and dropped your cigarette, if your back just went out from bending over to pick it up, that would not be a case because you are not at an increased risk from anything related to your employer.

Bottom line is that you should never assume you don’t have a case. Call us or some other qualified law firm to review your situation and see what options you have.

We are workers' compensation attorneys who help people with Illinois work injuries anywhere in IL via our statewide network of attorneys. Contact us and we will answer your questions or find the right lawyer for your situation.

By Michael Helfand

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