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Student Injured Delivering Timecard After Work Can’t Recover Claim

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A temporary university worker recently failed to convince the Illinois Appellate Court for the Fourth District that her injury was connected to her employment. The decision in Purcell v. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, which came down on April 27th, highlights that employees must meet strict requirements to show not only that their injury is work-related, but that it arises out of and in the course of their employment.

Personal Detours and Shortcuts Can Short-Circuit Your Claims

In this case, the employee was walking to another building to turn in her time card.  She wasn’t compensated for this time, and she was not told to turn it in during work hours.  Still, it may seem reasonable that this would be part of her employment.  But when she came across a chain barrier, instead of walking “10 to 15 feet to the left,” she decided to try to walk over it and suffered a serious elbow injury.

If you’re doing something that’s reasonably expected of you, that’s one thing.  But if you make some independent decision, that’s not for the benefit of your employer, your workers’ compensation claim can be denied.  Here, nobody directed the employee to go over, instead of around, the fence thereby maybe saving “a few seconds.”  She made up her own mind, and it was for her benefit, not the university’s.

The court discussed a prior case, Dodson v. Industrial Comm’n, where an employee was walking to her car after work in the rain.  Instead of taking the stairs down to the parking lot, she took a shortcut across the grass and suffered an injury.  The shortcut was for her benefit, not her employer’s and it was her own decision.  As the court said, “An injury does not arise out of employment where an employee voluntarily exposes herself to an unnecessary personal danger solely for her own convenience.”

Traveling Employees Versus Commuters

It’s also important to remember that, although you can be covered for injuries that happen traveling outside of your work property, that travel has to be “essential” to your job. The general risks of the street posed by cars, trucks, or construction, are greater for employees for whom travel is an essential component of their jobs.  In this case, it became clear that most employees returned their timecards outside of work hours, and the court held that she wasn’t a “traveling employee.”

Similarly, as a general rule, injuries that happen on your commute won’t be covered. If you are directed to travel for work, keep in mind that detours and short cuts for your own benefit are also at your own risk.

Help with Chicago Worker’s Compensation Claims

If you need help pursuing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits in Chicago, please call Connolly Injury Law at 312-780-0816 to speak with Chicago workers’ compensation attorney Mark Connolly.  Traveling employee and frolic/detour cases are very complicated and fact specific.  You will want a seasoned attorney like Mark Connolly gather all of the relevant evidence and analyze every possible exception to these rules  Your call is free, and there is no fee until after we are successful in getting you benefits. Mr. Connolly will handle your case personally and be with you at every step.

Resources:

courts.illinois.gov/Opinions/WorkersComp/2021/4200359WC.pdf

businessinsurance.com/article/20210428/NEWS08/912341502/Fall-while-walking-to-turn-in-timecard-not-compensable-Purcell-v-Illinois-Worke

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