In a somewhat unique case, an Appellate Court decision just came out in reference to an injured worker who hurt her knee when she stepped off of a platform where her desk was located.
What made it unique is that the worker, Arbitrator Hagan, is an Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission Arbitrator. What’s even more interesting is that she lost her original trial and first two appeals before the Appellate Court said that she was at an increased risk of injury and awarded her benefits.
If you’ve ever been to the Thompson Center where Chicago hearings take place, you’ve seen that the Arbitrators sit at desks which are slightly elevated from the rest of the room. They also have rather narrow passageways. Those facts combined with the Arbitrator having to repeat these actions multiple times throughout her day lead to her victory.
She’s always been fair to me and on the cases I’ve seen her on, so I’m happy for her. I’m more happy though because I think it was the right decision. Her stepping down is what is considered a neutral risk because most people have to do that every day. So to win she had to show that she’s at an increased risk of injury which she was rightfully able to do, due to the narrow area she works in.
A couple of other Arbitrators have filed cases over the years, but it’s certainly not common. They do work desk jobs and for most the biggest risk is carpal tunnel from too much typing (although a couple of them don’t believe that typing can cause carpal tunnel so it would be interesting to see what they would do if it happened to them).
It does in a way make you feel good about the system in a way given that she lost her original trial. If they won’t find in favor of an Arbitrator it’s hard for an insurance company to say with a straight face that the system is too worker friendly.