I had the pleasure recently of speaking with a really nice teacher who tore his ACL while walking out of school. He was carrying a stack of papers that he was going to grade that night, so he didn’t see where the steps ended on the stairs, and he fell down.

To make matters worse, his case was denied by the insurance company because he had clocked out for the day and was not inside the school anymore.

First off, it doesn’t matter that he clocked out or wasn’t inside.  He was doing something to benefit the employer by carrying papers and those papers increased his risk of getting injured. So it’s clear to me that this is a bogus denial and I’m confident we can win his case.

He’s having surgery and is expected to be off work for a while.  He was hesitant to file a case and said that he’d just use sick days that he has stacked up. In fact, he said he has enough to cover him for the rest of the year if he wants.  There are a few things wrong with this:

1. This is clearly a case that should be covered under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act.

2. Since it’s a good case, all of his time off should be paid by work comp. He shouldn’t lose those sick days even if it doesn’t bother him to use them.

3. He also should have 100% of his medical bills paid with no co-pays or out-of-pocket expenses.  He also shouldn’t have to worry if a doctor is in-network or not.

4. When all better, he’d be entitled to a settlement that would likely be somewhere in the mid-five figures, tax-free.

You should never use sick or vacation days when you get hurt on the job in Illinois if you don’t have to.  The law is there to protect you including compensating you from the time you medically have to take off from work due to a work-related injury.

The good news is that if he does decide to pursue the case, we can likely get the sick days reinstated as long as he has a doctor’s note that says he’s off work. Of course, it shouldn’t even get to that point.  Just remember that taking  vacation isn’t you admitting it’s not a work-related injury. And if you are forced into using those days you’ve earned, there is a way to get them back if they otherwise wouldn’t have expired.