A caller to our office was injured when they went to a Goose Island bar and rode a mechanical bull. She was out with a group of girlfriends from college and was goaded into getting on the mechanical bull. She had had a glass of wine, but was not inebriated.
While riding the bull she was thrown off, landed awkwardly and felt a pop in her leg. She wanted to know if she had a lawsuit against the bar, but upon further examination, I realized it was a workers comp claim.
While she was out with college friends, she didn’t actually live in Illinois. She was in town for work from her west coast state. During the day she attended a conference for work, but she had no commitments at night so she arranged to meet up with her college friends.
Because she was in Illinois on business, she was considered a traveling employee. When you are in that situation, almost anything that happens to you while you are traveling is considered to be job related, including an injury that occurs while hanging out with friends from college.
The law in Illinois (and it’s Illinois law that matters since she was hurt here) is that your employer should anticipate that you will do some things for pleasure while you are on a job trip. Taking a break for dinner or to do something touristy like a Cubs game or in this case, meet friends, should be anticipated by your employer. So as long as she was not drunk, if she got hurt doing something that her work could anticipate, she’s entitled to Illinois work comp benefits.
Now of course they wouldn’t think she’d ride a mechanical bull, but they don’t have to anticipate something specific. They can anticipate she would do something social and that’s enough.
So no matter what the laws say in the state she works in, she’s entitled to IL work comp rights. This includes payment of 100% of her medical care at a doctor of her choice, payment for all her time off work due to the injury and a settlement when she gets better.
This applies to any traveling employee whether you usually work in Illinois and are hurt out of state, or if you work in Illinois and are hurt traveling in Illinois or if you are from out of State and get hurt working here. And it doesn’t have to be on a mechanical bull. It could be almost any activity that isn’t part of your normal work duties.
In fact, you could be at a Cubs or White Sox game and get hit by a foul ball. That injury would be a work comp case if you were there while traveling for work.
Nobody told this caller about a potential work comp case and you can’t expect your employer, the insurance company or anyone else to look out for you. You have to seek out information on your own. This woman discovered her rights accidentally, but no matter who you are, it’s always a good idea to have a free consultation with an attorney. If you want to do that with us, you can call us any time at 312-346-5578.