It’s been a crazy, brutal winter in Chicago and for most of Illinois.  I would guess that it’s been a record for the number of calls and emails I’ve received about people who have slipped on ice at work and been injured.

If your job requires you to travel and you fall on ice, it’s a case.  If you work outside and fall on ice, or there is snow/ice on the company premises, it’s usually a case.  But a tougher case is when you fall when you are in a parking lot.

What makes these cases not black and white is the fact that often when you are in a parking lot you haven’t started your day of work or the day of work is finished.   In some cases, if the lot is open to the public, an injured worker would be out of luck.  This law has been clarified.

In a recent court case (Smith v. Manhattan Park District), the Illinois Appellate Court made clear what the law is.  In that case, a park district employee hurt her leg when she fell in the parking lot on ice at the end of her shift. It had snowed that day and there was a lot of ice on the ground.    The lot was owned and maintained by the employer and open to the general public.

The Court said that the fact the general public used the parking lot didn’t matter.  That was because the injury was caused by a hazardous condition on the employer’s property.  Since the employer maintains and provides its lot for employees to use, the hazardous condition makes it a compensable claim.

This is a game changer for injured workers in Illinois as previously the law was interpreted to mean that if the general public was equally exposed to the same risk, you couldn’t win.  I’ve gotten around 50 calls about these cases this winter and I’d bet there have been at least 500 or more injuries from parking lot falls at work in Illinois this winter.

It’s all the more reason to make sure the lawyer you are talking to focuses on work comp because if they aren’t up on the law they will give you the wrong answer and in some cases, like this one, the law one day is not the same the next day.

If you have any questions about this or anything else and want a free consultation, please get in touch with us.