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Workers’ Compensation as a School Employee

Casey Woodruff

undefinedIf you’re injured on the job, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. But are the rules the same when it comes to school employees? As with other types of work, jobs within various Illinois school districts can pose risks for employees.  Thus, school employees are afforded the same rights under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act as employees in other industries.  At the same time, it’s important to understand the steps you must take in order to qualify, as well as issues that are particular to the academic year schedule.

Many different types of jobs exist at schools, from teachers to custodians to food service workers. No matter what kind of work you were doing when you suffered an injury, it’s important to discuss your case with an experienced Champaign workers’ compensation attorney. The law can be complicated, and you should have a dedicated advocate on your side throughout the process.

Determining Eligibility for an Injury Sustained on School Grounds

Are you a school employee who suffered an injury while you were at work? Like any other type of employment, getting hurt while working at a school means that you might be able to obtain compensation for your injury by filing a workers’ compensation claim. How do you qualify for benefits? Under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act (820 ILCS 305/1), the following must apply:

  • You were injured in the course of your employment;
  • Your injury arose out of the work you’re required to do;
  • You provided proper notice to your employer of your injury (within 45 days of the accident); and
  • You filed your claim within the time required by the statute of limitations (generally three years from the date of your injury).

Why is it important whether or not you’re a school employee? Most notably, school employees need to ensure that they’re receiving the proper compensation for weekly benefits. Under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, employees are entitled to two-thirds of their average weekly wage during the period of time in which their injury prevents them from working.

Many school employees have long winter breaks and summer vacations. You do not need to take into account these breaks from work when you’re determining your average weekly wage. Doing so “could result in a large underpayment to the school employee,” according to a press release from the Illinois Education Association (IEA).

Facts and Figures About Workplace Injuries at Schools

Once you’ve determined you are eligible and have filed for workers’ compensation benefits, it’s important to think about preventing workplace injuries in the future. According to a recent study funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, work injuries occur more frequently among school employees than many people might think. In analyzing 130 independent school districts over the course of 6 years, the researchers came to the following conclusions:

  • School employees who are custodians, food-service workers, and transportation workers have “a 700 percent or greater increased risk of injury compared to licensed staff.”
  • Injuries caused by students account for about 25 percent of all reported school-employee injuries. In some cases, these injuries are caused by students “acting out,” while in other situations these types of injuries arise from accidents while “playing with students.”
  • The most serious type of injuries among school employees were those sustained while “assisting and transferring students.” Although these kinds of injuries occurred less frequently than others, they accounted for the largest percentage of lost work time.

Contact a Dedicated Chicago Workers’ Compensation Attorney

School employees sustain injuries at work just like employees in other fields. Given that school employees can have particular concerns when filing for workers’ compensation benefits, it’s extremely important to contact an experienced Chicago workers’ compensation lawyer. A dedicated advocate at Woodruff Johnson & Evans can discuss your case today.

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