A reader asks:

I was injured at work while transferring a resident, would I get covered by the workers comp even if I did not use a gait belt?

Good question. Generally speaking, you have to follow the rules set forth by your company.  But whether or not you have an Illinois work comp case if you get injured while not following the rules depends on what happened.

In this case, the CNA was injured while doing something that benefited her employer; lifting a patient.  Whether this was a situation where she forgot to wear the belt or chose not to or just didn’t have it on when she was asked to help, the fact of the matter is that she was doing her job when she got hurt.  Unless the employer can show that she intentionally hurt herself or decided to put herself at risk, I do think her case should be covered by work comp although you can anticipate a potential fight on your hands. That’s OK, we don’t mind a legal fight when our clients are in the right.

On the other hand, if an employee is goofing off or “engaging in horse play” (that term came from a famous case) then they wouldn’t get covered under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. Let’s say this nurse had a job to wheel an elderly patient from one part of the building to another. If she decided to race the wheelchair and in doing so got injured, that wouldn’t be a case.  Doing so she would be taking an unnecessary risk that isn’t part of her job duties.

The bottom line in these cases is that you have to look at the unique facts of what happened to see if there is a case or not.  The best advice I can give you is that if the insurance company denies your case, don’t stress.  It happens all the time even when they are in the wrong.  Speak to an attorney who knows what they are doing and get an independent opinion.  If you’d like to talk with one of our lawyers for free, you can contact us at any time.