Can I seek workers’ compensation for an injury that did not happen in Illinois?

Road construction, teamworkAs companies in Illinois become less localized than they once were, expanding their operations and client relationships beyond state and even national borders, workers’ compensation claims take on an added dimension of complexity. These companies routinely require employees to travel outside of the state, where they may be just as likely to incur a work-related injury. Employees in this situation may wonder whether their injuries are eligible for Illinois workers’ compensation.

Under state law, Illinois workers are entitled to compensation for damages, such as lost wages or medical costs, owing to a workplace injury. This entitlement extends to workers who may be working outside of the state of Illinois. However, there are specific conditions that limit this benefit.

Limited scope of travel-related injuries

Specifically, an amendment to the law, introduced in 2013, limits the scope of travel-related injuries that are eligible for workers’ compensation. Section 5 of the bill provides the following clarity: “An employee who is required to travel in connection with his or her employment and who suffers an injury while in travel status shall be eligible for benefits only if the injury arises out of and in the course of employment while he or she is actively engaged in the duties of employment.”

There are two criteria that serve to define the phrase “actively engaged in the duties of employment.” Compensation from the employer for the travel that led to the injury is the first, while the mandatory nature of the travel is the second. For example, attending a meeting with a client in Michigan, where the flight, hotel and meals are all reimbursable by the employer, would appear to satisfy the first criterion. Attending a non-reimbursable conference in Iowa, which required the worker to use vacation days, would appear to not satisfy either criterion. In any case, Chicago personal injury attorneys may be able to discern whether a criterion has been satisfied.

Commuting is excluded

Additionally, the amended legislation is clear about the ineligibility of at least one activity that may lead to a work-related injury for an Illinois worker outside of the state. According to the bill, injuries sustained during the worker’s commute to or from work, whether he resides in Illinois or a neighboring state, do not satisfy the criterion.

Whether the incident occurred in or out of the state, Illinois workers who have a sustained a work-related injury may wish to seek the counsel of a workers’ compensation attorney.