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Implications of Illinois workers' compensation ruling

Most employers are concerned with their employees' safety. Despite taking every conceivable precaution, however, accidents can still happen that cause serious injury to an employee. As a result, most states such as Illinois require that employees provide workers' compensation benefits to their employees in case of such an accident. The question becomes, however, what happens when an employer decides an employee who is involved in an accident doesn't qualify for such benefits? One woman took extra pains to ensure that she receive the compensation to which she felt entitled.

The woman had just finished her shift as a flight attendant when she claims she was retrieving her suitcase from an overhead bin. The suitcase fell and struck her leg. Thinking she was not seriously injured, she walked to a connecting flight (on which she would not be working) that would take her home. As she walked, she felt a pop in her leg, indicating a more serious injury.

The airline felt that her injury was not covered by workers' compensation because it occurred while she was traveling home from work, not while she was performing actual duties. An arbitrator, however, disagreed, stating that the injury had occurred during the course of her work day, and she was, therefore, entitled to benefits. The Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission agreed with the arbitrator.

The ruling demonstrates that a traveling worker, such as a flight attendant, is considered to be on the job from the time the employee leaves his or her house until the time they return. Most employers are willing to do anything possible to help an injured employee. However, some people might find seeking additional assistance useful when there is a conflict between an injured employee and his or her employer over workers' compensation benefits.

Source: Risk & Insurance Online, Flight attendant lands benefits for injury sustained while heading home, No author, Nov. 14, 2014

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