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Where Can I File a Claim? Illinois Jurisdiction for Truck Drivers

Russ Haugen

undefinedUnder the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, there are three ways to establish Illinois jurisdiction. Those three ways are: (1) if the injury occurred in Illinois; (2) if the contract for hire occurred in Illinois; or (3) if the injured worker’s employment was “principally localized” within Illinois. Pursuant to the statute, only one of these factors has to exist.

What happens if the accident occurred outside of Illinois and the contract of hire occurred outside of Illinois? How does one determine if the employment was “principally localized” within Illinois? Does it matter if you are a resident in Illinois? Does it matter if you travel in other states?

An occupation that commonly finds itself under this analysis, whether the employment is “principally localized” within Illinois, is a truck driver. Let’s use Andy the Truck Driver as an example. Andy has an Illinois home address. A few years ago, he received a call while he was at his home in Illinois regarding a prospective job as a driver. He was required to attend orientation in Iowa and complete a physical & drug test while in Iowa. He signed his employment papers while in Iowa. After he was hired, he returned to Illinois to pick up his truck and start his routes. Although he drove in 40 states, he always returned to the terminal in Illinois to receive his next assignment. While driving in Wisconsin, he sustained a serious injury.

Unfortunately, the statute doesn’t provide a definition of “principally localized.” So, we have to look at how the courts have interpreted this language. The courts have decided that the center from which the employee works must first be determined. The factors that the court looks at:

  • Where did the job assignments come from?
  • Where did the injured driver pick up his loads?
  • Where did the remuneration come from?
  • Did the employer have a terminal or repair shop in the State?
  • What percentage of the driver’s total miles took place within the State?
  • Where the employment contract was formed?
  • What facility/location does the employee return to after completing his assignment?

As you can see, this is a very fact-based analysis. Going back to Andy’s injury, I believe that he would be able to file a claim in Illinois. It could be argued that the “center” of Andy’s employment is Illinois, since he always has to return to Illinois after every assignment to pick up his next load. Filing a claim in Illinois would not only be more convenient for Andy, there are aspects of Illinois law that are more beneficial to him as an injured worker when compared to Wisconsin and Iowa law.

Like truck drivers, there are many other occupations that are transient in nature and this causes issues regarding what state has jurisdiction over a workers’ compensation claim. If your occupation is transient in nature and you are interested in filing a workers’ compensation claim in Illinois, you should contact Woodruff Johnson & Evans.

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