Illinois Court Says Police Officer Entitled to Seek Benefits for Injury Suffered Inspecting Commercial Truck

Whether you are pursuing workers’ compensation, Social Security disability benefits or benefits under some other statutory basis, one of the fundamental keys to success is making sure that the case you present demonstrates that your circumstances fit within all the criteria established by the law. This means understanding not just the facts of your case, but all the “ins” and “outs” of the statute. To make sure than you give yourself the best chance possible to recover benefits, be sure to retain a skilled Chicago injury lawyer to handle your case.

An example of how precise these cases can be was the case of J.M., a police officer in a suburb of Chicago. One night, after 26 years on the force, J.M. hurt his knee inspecting a commercial truck that he suspected of being overweight. Medical providers later diagnosed the officer with two torn tendons in his left knee. He underwent surgery but his condition did not improve. He ultimately had total knee replacement 16 months after the original accident.

After that second medical procedure, J.M. filed a claim for disability benefits under the Public Safety Employee Benefits Act. To receive the sort of benefits that J.M. sought under the PSEBA, he was required to show that his injury took place in course of one of four specific situations. Those were: hot pursuit, an emergency (actual or perceived,) an unlawful act by another person or the investigation of a criminal act.

The city’s argument in opposition to an award of benefits was that J.M., who injured his knee ascending the ladder of a truck under investigation for exceeding weight limits, did not have a case that fell within any of those four situations.

The trial court did not agree with the city and allowed J.M. to take his case to trial. Sometimes, winning your case for benefits or for an award of damages can come down to what may well seem, to a layperson, like splitting hairs. Yet it is the splitting of those hairs that can make the difference between success or defeat in some legal cases. Both sides in this case agreed that the statute clearly covered circumstances where the officer was dealing with “an unlawful act by another.” J.M.’s argument was that he was on that truck ladder because the truck driver was hauling an overweight load, which was clearly an unlawful act. The city’s argument was that the trucker was off the road and parked, which meant that the driver had completed his unlawful act of driving while overweight and J.M.’s injury occurred after the illegal act had finished.

The court did not accept this interpretation by the city. The statute’s wording said that an employee could be eligible for benefits if his injury occurred “as a result of… an unlawful act… by another.” That meant that the unlawful act only had to be the cause, and did not have to be ongoing at the time of the injury. The trucker’s illegal act was the cause of J.M.’s injury, os he could proceed with his claim.

If you have been hurt at work and need to pursue a claim for benefits, you need experienced legal representation on your side. The diligent Chicago injury attorneys at Katz, Friedman, Eagle, Eisenstein, Johnson & Bareck have been effectively injury clients for many years and are ready to advocate for you. To set up a free case evaluation, contact us at 800-444-1525 or through our website.

More Blog Posts:

An Illinois Truck Driver’s Pre-Existing Conditions Didn’t Stop Her From Proving Her Workplace Accident Caused Her ‘Condition of Ill-Being’, Chicago Injury Attorneys Blog, Oct. 16, 2017

Illinois Appellate Court Upholds Workers’ Compensation Award for Firefighter with PTSD Injury, Chicago Injury Attorneys Blog, Aug. 31, 2017