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Workers’ Compensation for Travel Injuries

Casey Woodruff

construction helmetIn order to promote a faster, fairer resolution of work injury claims, Illinois has instituted a workers’ compensation system via the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act.  However, it can sometimes be difficult to understand exactly what qualifies as an “on the job” injury, especially if the injury occurs while one is traveling for business but not necessarily performing job related duties.  Injuries that occur during work-related travel are treated differently than typical work injuries.  In order to understand the difference, it is first important to understand the types of injuries that workers’ compensation covers, as well as the special rules for travel-related injuries.

Types of Compensable Injuries

Workers’ compensation covers injuries when two criteria are met. First, the injury must occur in the course of the person’s employment. Second, the injury was of a type that the person’s employment increased their risk for. How the courts treat these rules is best illustrated by a few examples.

For instance, suppose a person is a construction worker who spends his day using vibrating tools, such as a jackhammer or drill.  If that person develops carpal tunnel syndrome, it is likely compensable because the person’s injury arose out of and in the course of the employment because the use of the tools increased the person’s risk of developing carpal tunnel.

Conversely, imagine the same construction worker who is driving to work and gets into a car accident.  In this case, he was not in the course of his employment because the injury occurred outside of work.  Furthermore, the accident did not arise out of his employment, but rather was caused by a risk that the general public is exposed to.  Thus, the accident is not compensable.

How Travel Injuries Work

Travel injuries are a unique case because they expand workers’ compensation coverage to injuries that are typically not covered, such as recreational activities, falls outside of work or and accidents coming to and from work.  The law compensates people for travel-related injuries as long as the conduct that the employee was engaged at the time of the injury was reasonable and foreseeable by the employer.  It is important to note however, that this standard does not apply to the employees’ ordinary daily commute.

For example, workers’ compensation benefits were awarded to an employee who was injured while driving an ATV during a business trip.  The employer offered this recreational activity for their employees. The court held that held that the activity was reasonable and foreseeable to the employer.

Workers’ compensation claims are complex legal issues with many close calls. If you have been injured on the job and want to learn more about your options for recovery, reach out to a DuPage County workers’ compensation attorney at Woodruff Johnson & Evans today for more information on your rights.

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