Did you know that you don’t have to be injured at your place of work to have an Illinois workers’ compensation claim? Every case has unique facts and one man who works as a special investigator for Lake County actually won a case where he slipped and fell on ice in his driveway at home.
It sounds like a description for an attack ad from groups that would look to destroy the work comp system in Illinois. But the reality is that you do have to look at each case for what happened, especially when a worker gets injured from a slip and fall on ice.
In this case, the investigator regularly traveled for his job to different locations to serve warrants and summons. He drives directly from his home to do that job without first checking in to his employer’s office. The day that he got hurt, he was loading work materials in to his vehicle. This was a direct benefit to his employer and made his injuries arise out of the course of his employment.
It’s relevant that he was driving a vehicle that the county provides, but I think that he would win his case even if it was a personal vehicle. He had to park the car in a location where there was snow and ice. He was loading up the car to do his job. That is plain and simple a work related injury and the courts got this one right. The Judge noted that it was foreseeable that he would take in to the house his work items such as his briefcase, computer and police radio (which needed to be charged overnight) and it was also relevant that he was carrying a bullet proof vest and carefully handled gun.
You don’t have to have this job description to be compensated for a fall on ice this winter. You just have to be doing something that is part of your job. For example, if your employer directs you to park in a certain area and you slip on ice there, that would be a case. If you take the train to work and fall on ice walking from the station, that might not be a case, but it could be if you were carrying work materials which caused you to lose your balance. If you fall on ice at a restaurant while on your lunch break, that’s not usually a case. But if you fall on ice at a restaurant on your lunch break and were ordered by your boss to pick up food for a meeting, then it would be a case.
Bottom line is that no matter what happens to you, a real legal analysis of what happened to you and what you were doing needs to take place. Not every case is clear cut and if you don’t have a lawyer who knows the law and who knows what the right questions are to ask, that could be the difference between winning and losing.
Whether it’s with our office (call us any time for a free consult at 312-346-5578 or fill out our online form, we have a statewide network for help anywhere in Illinois) or with any other firm, it should always be free to talk to an attorney and ask questions about whether or not there is a case. What you want to look out for is the law firms that don’t connect you with a lawyer right away. Too many firms (usually the ones who heavily advertise from my experience, they can’t handle the high volume) have a paralegal or secretary be the first one to talk to you. If they don’t ask the right questions, and why would they, you might get told you don’t have a case when you actually do.