Workers’ compensation is there if you get injured on the job. It pays your medical bills and a portion of your wages while you recover. Illinois is considered a worker-friendly state when it comes to getting claims and benefits approved, but not all cases are a slam-dunk.

There are some situations where an injury, even though it happened at work, might not qualify for workers’ compensation. A recent example involves an employee who fell while using his wheelchair on a ramp. He was out of the office but on a work field trip with fellow employees. He asked a co-worker to help him up the ramp and ended up falling and getting injured.

In a case like this, some things are clear – he was injured and he was in the course of his employment when injured. The issue is whether the injury is related (or related enough) to his job. If an injury is just as likely to happen to someone in the general public, meaning your job didn’t put you at a higher risk of getting that injury, then a claim can be denied.  Examples of these common risks are a heart attack, an insect bite, or tripping up the stairs. All of these things can and do happen to everyone. The key is whether there was something specific to your job (unique duties, uniform requirements, physical work environment, employer’s particular demands, etc.) that put you at an increased risk for your particular injury.

So in the wheelchair situation, the question is whether there was any increased risk for the employee caused by his job. You could say that he’s at an increased risk because he’s in a wheelchair, but on the other hand you could say that it’s no different than tripping up the stairs. In cases involving falls on stairs, attorneys look for whether there was a hazardous condition on the stairs, whether the employee was in a hurry doing their job, whether they were carrying something that made it more likely they would trip, etc.

Many of these cases can go either way. A good workers’ compensation attorney will investigate all the angles of your injury to see whether you were under any increased risk because of your job. Just because an insurance company denies a claim based on the fact that there was no increased risk doesn’t mean that’s the final answer. It’s their job to deny claims that are in the gray area, just like it’s your attorney’s job to fight for your benefits.

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