Generally speaking, injuries sustained at work that are from activities most people do in their daily life, are not compensable. For example, if you are just walking down the hallway at your place of employment and your knee gives out, that’s probably not a case. If you bend down to tie your shoes and feel a pop in your back, that’s typically not a case either.
There are exceptions of course. If you do excessive walking on your job, if your knee gives out then you might have a claim. If you are wearing protective, heavy clothing like a fireman, if you bend down and feel a pop in your back, that is probably a case. It’s always important to look at the unique facts of what happened to you.
This principle showed up in a recent case where a welder was seeking workers’ compensation benefits for a meniscus tear in his knee. He welded lock systems and did his work seated in a five-wheeled swivel chair, like the ones you see in offices everywhere. He tore his meniscus when he rotated to the right in his swivel chair.
Turning in a swivel chair is an activity of everyday life. So, the general public faces a risk of injury when turning in a swivel chair. The key question in this case was, did he have a higher risk of injury than the general public due to the nature of his job?
The Illinois Appellate Court found that yes, this welder did have a higher risk of injury than the general public. Therefore, he should be awarded workers’ compensation benefits. As he welded, he had to move continuously in the swivel chair. He was also under time constraints. So he was rotating much more frequently in his chair than the general public would be expected to. Welding under the pressure of getting his work done in a specified amount time was also a factor in the Court’s decision that this injury did indeed arise from his employment.
His scenario is way different than someone who sits at a desk all day and isn’t required to swivel their chair multiple times or even at all. I don’t have to do that for my job, but sometimes I swivel my chair just because I’m bored or taking a break or blowing off steam. If my knee popped, I likely wouldn’t have a case.
The big picture point of this post is that I would never assume you don’t have a case off of a generic description of what happened to you. I’m shocked at how many attorneys turn down cases without knowing the full facts of what happened. It only takes two minutes to ask the probing questions needed to really know your story. But some lawyers don’t have two minutes to spare.
For a free review of your Illinois workers’ compensation situation, contact us at (312) 346-5578 or fill out our contact form online. We will give you an honest, knowledgeable assessment, and if you need an attorney, we will find the right one for you.