Do I Have a Case?
The answer is yes, you might—so it is important to pursue the matter by talking with an attorney. Not every injury that happens at work or on the clock is your employer’s responsibility, but just because you are off the employer’s premises or off the clock doesn’t automatically mean that your employer is not responsible.
There are many factors that must be considered when addressing whether an injury is work-related. And many people may make it more challenging along the way. Be careful of falling for an insurance adjuster that may tell you your injury was not onsite or on the clock. This is none of their concern.
How Do I Know If I Even Need a Lawyer?
Even if everything seems to be going well right now, you will inevitably need an attorney. Don’t wait to get one until after a problem occurs and risk a situation where an attorney cannot fix the harm that has been done.
You need protection against an insurance company that cares more about their bottom line than an employee’s health and well-being. Get an attorney right away so that we can make sure you can prevent and address issues before they become irreversible problems.
WHY DO I NEED AN ATTORNEY?
In Illinois, an insurance adjuster does not have an obligation to advise the injured worker of the law. In fact, the insurance adjuster’s duty is to the insurance company and the employer, not the injured worker.
If you proceed without an attorney, no one is obligated to advise you and represent you. You are out on your own—and this is never a good situation. That’s why 97% of the people who have workers’ compensation cases in Illinois hire attorneys.
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STILL WONDERING IF YOU HAVE A CASE?
Yes! Even after you punch out, you may be covered by workers’ compensation laws. The law states that for an injury to be work related, the injury must arise out of and in the course of your employment. “In the course of” usually means that you are on the clock, but not always. A person can be asked to stop at the hardware store on the way home from work to pick up some tools needed at work and have an accident. This would be work related because the accident was in furtherance of the employer’s business. Therefore, it is not necessary that you be technically on the clock for an injury to be work related.
The injury also has to “arise out of”. This is a very confusing concept. “Arising out of,” means that the injury must come from a risk peculiar to one’s employment. These are very difficult questions to answer. Many people mistakenly believe that if they are at work and they get hurt, that is all that is needed. This is often how people get trapped by insurance companies during taped statements. For example, the mere act of bending over at work is not work related. If a person herniates a disk while bending over, the Illinois Appellate Court says that the herniated disk is not work related. An insurance investigator could take a taped statement and ask the individual how they got injured. The individual could honestly respond “I was bending over at work when I hurt my back.” The investigator most likely would not ask follow up questions because he or she had enough to deny the claim. The individual may have been simply bending over at work in an awkward position with a 50 pound box in their hands and failed to mention these very critical aspects of the event. Therefore, be very careful when talking to anybody from the insurance company.
Yes! Employees who have to travel have special protection. This is because most of their time spent away from home base is in the furtherance of the employer’s work, including some recreational activities while away from the actual tasks. For example, a traveling employee who slips and falls in a hot tub may have a viable workers’ compensation case for the slip and fall because they are a traveling employee.
Possibly. If you smoke and you have to go outside to smoke during your break and are injured while outside, most likely, this injury is work related under the Personal Comfort Doctrine.