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Illinois Supreme Court hands big win to workers

The Supreme Court of Illinois recently ruled on a case that will impact the future of workers’ compensation cases. The case involved the question of whether or not a worker can receive coverage from common, everyday types of injuries that result from actions like bending and reaching. It also provides some clarity because the court overturned a previous case that required workers to show the likelihood that their job made the risk of their injury higher than the risk experienced by the general public.

More on the case

The worker that brought the case suffered a knee injury while working as a sous-chef. His work duties included arranging the restaurant’s cooler along with prepping and cooking food. The injury occurred when the worker bent to move a pan of carrots and “felt his knee pop” when attempting to stand back up. He told his boss about the injury and went to the hospital.

When reviewing the case, the arbitrator agreed that the injury was a result of job duties and the worker qualified for benefits. The employer disagreed and took the case to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. The commission disagreed, and stated the injury was the result of a neutral risk and that the worker did not qualify for benefits. The case moved up through the court system until it reached the Illinois Supreme Court.

Ultimately, the Illinois Supreme Court stated the case should focus on whether or not the worker was injured while performing job duties.

More on the impact of this case on future workers’ comp issues

When it comes to common body movements like this, the court should look at two elements when trying to determine if workers’ comp benefits apply:

  • Course of employment. This refers to the time, place, and circumstance of the injury.
  • Injury “arose out of” employment. This refers to a risk that is either connect to or incidental to the job. The court further explained this element as an action the worker would need to do in order to do their job.

In this case, they agreed that the worker was injured during the course of employment and the action was needed to complete their work. These two elements extend beyond this case and are important for future cases. As a result, they can help injured workers build a strong case for getting their entitled benefits.