Under Illinois workers’ compensation law, you don’t have to be at your physical workplace in order to qualify for benefits. People who get hurt while driving, walking into work, traveling from one place to another during the day or even while out of town can be eligible for benefits.

The main thing to know is that your injury has to arise out of and in the course of your employment. This generally means that an injury has to happen while you are working, and within the scope of your employment. It’s a fairly broad category that can include anything that you are doing for the benefit of your employer – not just your specific job duties. If you are running an errand for your boss and you get hurt in the process, that could count as a work injury, even if you weren’t physically at work or technically doing your job at the time.

So how does this apply to injuries to and from work? If your commute is typical and totally under your control, then it probably isn’t covered. Most commutes are not within the scope of one’s employment. However, if your commute is somehow unique because of your job, you can make the argument that a commute injury is a work injury. Also, if you drive around during your work day, meeting clients or going to different work sites, then an injury while you’re doing this type of commuting should be covered.

The key is connecting your injury to your work obligations. Sometimes this is fairly obvious, other times you need a skilled attorney to make the connection and argue for benefits. If your benefits are denied, your attorney can get a hearing in front of an arbitrator (like a judge) who will hear both sides and make a decision. Starting this process sooner rather than later is in your best interests and can help your chances.

By Michael Helfand