The most common Illinois workers’ compensation law question we get is, “How much is my case worth?” The second most common question we get is “Do I have a case?”
An interesting scenario came up in a recent call from a worker who wondered if they had a case or not. She had put in her two weeks notice and on her last day of work, after she had punched out, she was walking out of the office when she slipped and feel on a wet floor and tore her ACL.
The insurance company told her that she didn’t have a workers’ compensation case because she was no longer an employee when the accident happened. Fortunately she was very smart and new not to trust what the insurance company said and reached out to see if she actually had a case or not.
The truth is that she does have a case. While every case has to be looked at for its unique facts, in this one it appears that the accident occurred within a reasonable period of time after she quit and walking out the building was a normal activity that you’d expect a worker to take. Coverage under Illinois workers’ compensation law doesn’t end the moment you quit or are fired.
This isn’t much different than an employee who punches out for the day and gets hurt while exiting the building. An employer can reasonably anticipate that an employee would face some hazards when exiting a building.
I’ve seen other cases where bar workers have quit or punched out for the day and then hung around the bar for hours, only to have an accident six or so hours after they were done working. That’s a different scenario. Even if they weren’t drunk, a reasonable person would say they went from employee to customer at some point. That’s of course not what happened with the woman who called me.
The flip side of all of this is that if your case is denied then you’d have the right to sue the employer if they were negligent. So the bottom line is that you should not just go away and should get a consultation with an attorney to figure out your rights.
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