Travel for Work? Illinois Workers’ Compensation Laws Dictate Coverage

Many workers in Illinois most likely understand that they are covered under workers’ compensation if they are injured at work. But what exactly constitutes a work injury? Is an employee covered if he or she falls while walking to his or her car after work? Is it a work injury if they are not on the job site but traveling on the road for a work-related assignment? Luckily a recent Illinois court decision has helped to clarify the reach of workers’ compensation in the context of traveling employees.

In Klimczak v. Northern Illinois Special Recreation Association, the claimant was a regional coordinator for Northern Illinois Special Recreation Association (NISRA), a company that provides recreational activities for people with disabilities. Her job as a programmer required her to travel 60 to 70 percent of the time, and NISRA reimbursed her for mileage. The woman was injured while walking to her car and sought benefits. The court ruled that a the injured woman was eligible for workers’ compensation for her injury since she proved that travel was a major component of her work duties.

As a result of the decision, companies in Illinois will be responsible for providing workers’ compensation benefits to employees injured at any point in the travel process if that travel is work-related.

Types of Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Illinois

There are three distinct benefits which workers’ compensation allows injured workers. Temporary total disability provides payment to workers at 2/3rds of their average weekly wage for the entire time that a doctor says they are temporarily unable to work. Employers are responsible for payment of all of the injured workers’ medical expenses which are deemed reasonable and necessary.

Finally, when injured workers are released by their doctor as having reached maximum medical improvement, and they are able to return to work, they are entitled to a lump sum payment for their injury. The amount of that payment is based upon the type of injury suffered, the part of the body which was injured, and what the workers’ average weekly wage was for the one year prior to the date they were injured.

Some Chicago workers’ compensation attorneys, however, cannot stress enough that time is of the essence. Reporting the injury both to the employer and to any physicians that treat them for their work is important. Physicians’ records are often relied upon by insurance companies and the courts in determining if workers’ injuries occurred on the job. Employees are still required to report any incident within 45 days of the occurrence, just like any other workers’ comp claim, or else they risk forfeiting their benefits.