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I tell people all of the time that their best chance for success with an Illinois workers’ compensation case is getting an attorney on their side who does nothing but work comp claims every day. There are plenty of lawyers who dabble in work comp, but aren’t up to date on exceptions to certain laws. A great example of that is when a worker is injured while going up or down stairs at work.

Generally speaking, to win a work comp case for a fall on stairs at work, you have to show something about the job contributed to it happening. For example, the stairs were wet, a step was broken, you were carrying work materials, you were rushing to a meeting, etc. The law is that an unexplained fall is not covered by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. And for lawyers who don’t do this every day, they think the analysis ends there.

But there is a BIG exception to this rule. If your job requires you to go up and down stairs several times a day, that can create a risk that is unique to your employment. That is especially true if you have no other option for getting from one area to another. So while most workers who stumble for no reason or trip over their own feet wouldn’t have a case, if your job has you going up and down these stairs a lot, an unexplained fall can be compensable.

I’m shocked by how few lawyers know this, but it’s clear case law in Illinois. I’d still expect an insurance company to deny your case if your fall is unexplained. In fact, a lot of insurance companies don’t know what the law is and even if they do, they’ll deny your case for any reason.

The good news is that the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission knows the law, so if you are forced to trial you stand a great chance of winning your case. In fact, there was a recent case against an Illinois steel company where a worker won benefits for a leg and back injury after a fall that only happened because he missed a step. The Court ruled that because he had to use this stairway multiple times a day it became a risk associated with his employment.

Bottom line is that if you do fall on stairs, make sure you talk to an experienced lawyer before accepting the insurance company or anyone else saying you don’t have a case.