Everyone gets that if you are hurt doing your normal job, your injuries should be covered under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. So if you are a firefighter and run in to a burning building and tear your meniscus or hurt your neck while doing so, there would hopefully be no dispute that you were hurt at work.
But as soon as you do something that helps your job, but isn’t the “main” part of your job, the insurance company will look at it funny and try to find a way to deny you.
It happens to every type of worker, but there was a recent case where an insurance company tried to screw over a firefighter. The good guy won in the end, but it’s ridiculous he had to go to trial to do so.
What happened was a firefighter went to a training course offered by a neighboring fire department. While participation in the class was voluntary, it was a class that was meant to improve his work skills and taking a class that improves those skills were a required part of his employment. Beyond that, he received permission from his boss to attend the course and his employer paid for it.
So what the Judge’s found in this case that went to the Appellate Court was that the skills learned in the class, including rapid intervention training, were a required part of his job. The class made him better at his job. The course was open only to firefighters, not the public at large and the employer gave him incentives to take this course by giving extra job benefits to workers who took the course.
The training required strenuous physical work and the Court said it could “reasonably be expected” that he would perform this type of training.
In plain English, the employer benefited from this training and approved of it happening. So while he wasn’t at his normal place of employment or doing what he does on a day to day basis, it was still a part of his job.
In this case it was a fireman, but it could happen with most types of employment too. Imagine a football coach who goes to take an instructional course taught at another school or even a lawyer like me who has to travel to meet State required continuing legal education requirements.
Hopefully this isn’t confusing, but if you have any questions about Illinois work comp law and want to talk to us for free get in touch any time.