Whether an injury qualifies as a “work injury” for purposes of workers’ compensation involves a close look at the specific facts of the situation. Where you were, what you were doing, what your job entails … these are all relevant. Simply being at work or on the clock is not enough.
One important factor is the type of risk that was involved. We all face risks every day when we step out of our homes, get in our cars and go about our daily lives. Depending on your job, you probably face additional risks specific to your work. Injury that comes from these specific job risks is, in most cases, considered a workers’ compensation injury. This means that you should qualify for benefits, such as payment for a portion of your lost wages as well as 100% of any related medical expenses. Other benefits may be available to you, as well.
This issue of risk often becomes a point of contention in a workers’ compensation claim because some risks are neutral, meaning that everyone in the general public faces those risks every day. Just because you were at work when you were facing a neutral risk, doesn’t mean it was job related. If you trip on your shoelaces, that is likely a neutral risk. Anyone can trip on their shoelaces at any time. Any resulting injury probably wouldn’t be covered by workers’ compensation.
However, if you can connect that neutral risk to your job in a very specific way, then you might be able to argue that your risk for the injury was greater than the risk faced by the general public (and therefore, that you should be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits). A lot of claims come down to specific facts.
One way in which a neutral risk can become a job risk is if you are a “traveling employee,” meaning you routinely perform your job duties at different locations throughout the day. When you’re out doing your job, you are facing a lot of neutral risks just like anyone else who is out driving, walking, etc. But, because you do this as part of your job, these “street risks” become job risks for you. Tripping up a curb on your way into work isn’t covered for most people, but it should be covered for traveling employees under the street risk rule.
There are other situations in which a risk faced by general public can be argued as a job risk. The distinction can be the difference between no benefits and full benefits. This is just one reason why it’s important to hire an experienced attorney if your benefits are denied. It’s in the insurance companies’ best interests to tell you that you aren’t covered because your injury wasn’t related to your job. It’s your lawyer’s job to prove that it was.
We are experienced workers’ compensation attorneys who help workers throughout the state of Illinois. We will talk to anyone for free about their workers’ compensation injury or claim. Talking to our lawyers is completely confidential. If you have any questions at all, give us a call any time.