Commuting and traveling is often a necessary part of a person’s job. While work-related travel and lengthy commutes are commonplace in today’s labor force, when a worker is injured while commuting or traveling for work, several issues can arise regarding workers’ compensation.
Generally, an injured worker is entitled to workers’ compensation if the injury or illness was incurred while the worker was “on the job,” which may include accidents and injuries sustained while away from the workplace as long as the employee was engaged in work-related activities. For instance, if an employee is injured in a restaurant while on a business trip, he or she may still be entitled to workers’ compensation because eating at a restaurant is considered part of the job on an overnight business trip. Similarly, a pilot or flight attendant who is injured while on a layover in another city may also be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
Issues can arise, however, when it is not clear whether the employee was commuting for work or considered a traveling employee. For instance, the Illinois Supreme Court recently heard a case that involved an employee who was injured in a car accident while traveling from his motel (where he was living temporarily) to the job site. After the employee took a job working on a nuclear power plant in Cordoba, Illinois – a location about 200 miles from his home – he chose to stay in a nearby motel that was approximately 30 miles from the job site.
The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission held that, as a traveling employee, the injured worker was entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, but the Illinois Supreme Court reversed that decision, holding that he was not entitled to workers’ compensation because he had made a personal decision to take the job away from his home with knowledge of the commute that it involved.
In the wake of the Illinois Supreme Court’s decision, Illinois lawmakers have proposed legislation that would clarify when a worker is entitled to workers’ compensation if he or she is injured on the way to his or her job. The proposed legislation would limit workers’ compensation to those injuries that “arise out of and in the course of employment while he or she is actively engaged in the duties of employment.”
As a result, if the proposed legislation is passed into law, the ability of traveling employees, such as flight attendants, pilots, and salespersons, to collect workers’ compensation could be significant hindered. The Illinois workers’ compensation lawyers at Ankin Law Office, LLC are dedicated to helping injured workers obtain full and fair financial recovery following work-related accidents, including workers’ compensation benefits and any personal injury damages in a third party lawsuit. We will continue to monitor any developments regarding the proposed legislation.
If you are a traveling employee who was injured on the job, contact the experienced Chicago workers’ compensation lawyers at Ankin Law Office at (312) 600-0000 to discuss your workers’ compensation options.