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Woman Denied Workers' Compensation After Slipping Outside of School

Posted on in Workers' Compensation

Woman Denied Workers' Compensation After Slipping Outside of SchoolAn Illinois appellate court recently upheld a decision by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission to deny workers’ compensation benefits to a woman who had slipped on a wet surface outside of her work. An arbitrator had initially awarded compensation to the woman. The commission found that the incident did not arise out of the woman’s work and that she did not face any increased risk of injury due to her employment.

Accident Details

The woman was working as an attendance clerk at a public high school on the date of her accident. During her lunch break, she was walking towards her car, which was parked in a designated employee space. Because it was raining at the time, she was carrying an umbrella, along with her purse. As she was walking down a handicap ramp, she slipped and fell on her face. She was taken inside to the school nurse’s office before being transported to a local hospital. Subsequent examinations determined she had suffered:

  • A nasal bone fracture;
  • Post-concussive symptoms; and
  • A torn rotator cuff.

Groundskeepers for the school inspected the surface she slipped on immediately after the incident. They found no evidence of ice, snow or defects in the surface that may have caused her to fall.

Decisions

An arbitrator decided that the woman’s injuries arose out of her employment and awarded her temporary total disability, permanent partial disability and medical expenses. The school district appealed to the IWCC, which overturned the arbitrator’s ruling. The woman appealed to the circuit court and appellate court, both of which upheld the IWCC’s ruling. The commission and courts cited four reasons why the accident does not qualify for workers’ compensation benefits:

  1. The outdoor surface being wet from the rain is not the same type of hazard as ice accumulation outside or water accumulation on an indoor surface. Unlike ice or indoor spills, wetness from rainfall cannot be treated.
  2. The requirements of the woman’s work did not increase her risk of slipping on a wet outside surface. She was not assigned a path she must take to get to her car or forced to hurry due to work pressures.
  3. The woman was no more at risk of slipping outside than a member of the public. The ramp is a common walkway that the public would be expected to use.
  4. There was no evidence that the ramp was more hazardous than any other walking surface outside the school.

Receiving Compensation

Despite this case’s outcome, you can receive workers’ compensation for a fall if you can show that the accident arose from your employment. A McHenry County workers’ compensation attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can help you argue for comprehensive benefits related to your injury. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838.

Source:

http://www.illinoiscourts.gov/Opinions/WorkersComp/2017/2160351WC.pdf

Illinois State Bar Association State Bar of Wisconsin Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce Illinois Trial Lawyers Association McHenry County Bar Association
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