One of the main requirements for getting workers’ compensation benefits in Illinois is that the injury must occur “out of and in the course of the employment.” It’s the law’s way of saying that your injury must be caused by your job. If it’s not, then you aren’t entitled to benefits, which include payment for lost wages and coverage of all related medical expenses.

Traveling employees are a unique group because they are often “in the course” of their employment even when they’re not at the workplace. A traveling employee is someone who travels from client to client or job to job, for example.

A recent Illinois case came out in favor of a traveling employee who was in front of her home, walking to her work vehicle, when she fell and was injured. She worked for a maid service and drove a work vehicle, a van, during the day. She had stopped home because of a break between jobs and got hurt on her way back out to the van.

Originally, the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission agreed with the employer’s insurance company that the employee was not in the course of her employment and that she was not a traveling employee. The Commission said she was not at any increased risk of falling on the driveway/sidewalk because of her job. She wasn’t carrying supplies, or actually getting into the van. Also, she was not on the clock between jobs.

The Illinois appellate court reversed the decision and said that she was a traveling employee and that she was in the course of her employment when she fell. The higher court said that she was en route to her job when she left her house to get into her work vehicle. Also, even though the conditions on the street/sidewalk were not specific to her employment, the court said that as a traveling employee she had greater exposure than the general public to such hazards.

This is yet another case that goes to show how unique each workers’ compensation case can be. All of the details of this woman’s situation were taken into account – the fact that she drove a work vehicle, that she traveled for jobs, that she fell outside of her own home, and the nature of her day-to-day work schedule.


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