I just read an interesting case. In general, most people don’t “work” their entire work shift. You might be grabbing a cup of coffee or talking about your weekend plans or taking part in office gossip at various times in the day. Most people will have to use the bathroom or will find a few minutes to check their e-mail or social media.
During all of the things I described, if you are clocked in you are still working under the eyes of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. So if while going to the bathroom you slipped and fell on a wet floor and tore your ACL, that would be a compensable case even though it didn’t have much to do with your job duties.
Even after you’ve clocked out you can still have a case for an injury. You punch out and then are walking down the hall toward the exit and trip on some loose carpet and break your wrist in the fall. That’s a case. Your boss asks you to help him/her move a desk before you go to your car and your back gives out, that’s a case.
The point is that your employer benefits by you being there, so if you get injured even when it’s not part of your normal job activities, it’s typically a case.
The exception is when you clearly take yourself away from the job and then get hurt. In a recent case, a Walmart employee who was a cashier got attacked in the employee parking lot after her shift and sustained some pretty serious injuries. Normally that’s a case the worker could win. In this case (not handled by our firm) the cashier clocked out at 10:03 p.m. and then did a personal shopping trip at the store which had her paying for her groceries at 10:23 p.m. The Court ruled that she switched from being an employee to being a paying customer and that her staying on site did not have any benefit to the employer. As a result she lost her case.
We’ve seen similar cases for workers at bars. They finish their shift and then have an end of work drink. If they are sitting at the bar having a beer and then go to help change out a keg or bounce a rowdy customer, they’d likely have a case if they got hurt. If they drink for an hour or two and then fall on a wet floor, it’s not work comp.
Bottom line is that with any type of case we want to look at the unique facts of what happened to you. We are very aggressive and will fight for you whenever we think that a good case can be made. You should not take the word of a non-lawyer that you don’t have a case, but instead talk to someone who handles these claims every day. We’ll always talk to you for free. Call the number at the top of the page or fill out our contact form and we’ll call you.