Illinois workers’ compensation benefits are available if an injury “arises out of and in the course of employment.” A causal relationship must exist between the work duties and the injury. How does this apply to those workers in the construction trades or sales and event planning who frequently travel as part of their job duties?
In a recent case heard by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, a worker was entitled to workers’ comp benefits for injuries she suffered in a car accident on a work-related trip to the store.
In the case, the woman’s job as director of investments’ required that she market and promote her employer’s business in the local community. In preparation for an annual business expo, she needed to purchase a rug for her employer’s booth.
As she was on her way to the store to purchase a rug, the director was in a car crash. The arbitrator who heard her workers’ compensation claim granted her workers’ compensation benefits. The Workers’ Compensation Commission agreed that the director’s job duties required her to travel away from where she worked during business hours to participate in events for her employer.
No evidence suggested she was heading to the store for personal shopping or that the store was on her way home from work. The trip to the store was within the scope of the director’s job duties and benefited the employer.
Traveling employees are those who need to leave their employer’s premises to complete their jobs. This includes many professionals, including sales representatives and regional employees who travel frequently. The Workers’ Compensation Act provides more protection as a way of recognizing that these employees assume additional risk while traveling on business.
Car accidents may result in serious injuries for traveling employees. It can be hard to know when workers’ compensation benefits may be available. In general, the analysis involves two questions:
Employees who must travel for work may receive workers’ comp for injuries when a work activity was reasonable and foreseeable.
Often the workers’ compensation statutes require that an arbitrator weigh the facts of an individual case to reach a decision. If injured while working for your employer, contact a local workers’ compensation attorney who can assist you in building a strong case. If an arbitrator has denied your claim, a workers’ comp attorney may also be able to assist with an appeal to help you obtain benefits.