Illinois workers’ compensation grants benefits for work-related injury. In a recent decision, the Illinois state Supreme Court ruled that an injured worker may receive workers’ compensation from common everyday activities that the public does at home such as bending, kneeling and reaching.
The claimant injured his knee when he was working in a restaurant as a sous-chef. His job duties included checking in orders, arranging the water cooler and preparing and cooking food.
He suffered an injury when he looked for vegetables, knelt for a food tray in a walk-in and then stood up. As he stood up from the kneeling position, he heard his knee pop, his knee locked up and he could not straighten it.
Benefits granted and denied
The arbitrator granted benefits to the claimant. Looking for food and picking up the tray was an act that an employer could reasonably expect a sous-chef to perform as part of his duties. The knee injury, according to the arbitrator, arose out of and in the course of employment.
On appeal, the Workers’ Compensation Commission reversed the arbitrator’s decision. It found that the claimant did not prove that his injury arose out of his employment because it arose out of a neutral risk that was not particular to employment and the public routinely faced the same risk of injury.
An Illinois appeals court also affirmed the denial of benefits. The majority ruled that the injury did not come from his employment because the risk of standing up from a kneeling position did not have a distinct relationship to his employment.
Supreme Court grants benefits
The Illinois Supreme Court reversed and ruled that client was entitled to compensation. It agreed that a compensable injury must have occurred in the course of employment and arose from that employment.
An injury occurs in the course of employment if it came from a risk connected or incidental to the claimant’s employment. A risk is incidental to employment if it is connected to activities that worker must do to perform their duties. Common body movements and everyday activities may be compensated if these movements caused an injury related to the worker’s employment.
In this case, the claimant’s injury came from a risk associated with his employment. The court also overturned other cases requiring claimants to prove that they were exposed to greater risks than the public.
Injured workers may need to prove facts and meet legal requirements. Attorneys can help assure that workers do not surrender any rights to compensation.