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Neutral Risk and Worker’s Compensation

November 5th, 2014 at 10:50 am

neutral risk workers compensation, Illinois workers comp attorneyJust what types of injuries are covered by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act (WCA) can be difficult to determine, especially if the injury or incident occurred on workplace premises. A recent ruling by an Illinois Appellate Court, 4th District, decided against the claimant in a workers’ compensation case, in which she fell while entering the workplace carrying baked goods for an office party.

The decision in Anderegg v. Kesler, Garman, Broughner & Townsley, P.C. was announced in August of this year, in response to the 2011 incident, according to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Law Bulletin (Vol. 22, Issue 11, Aug. 27, 2014).

The claimant, according to the Bulletin, is a legal secretary at the defendant’s law firm. In the summer of 2011, she was carrying two plastic containers of baked goods for an office party, and lost her balance on a stairway leading to the office. Because she lost her balance while attempting to not drop the baked goods, the claimant filed a workers’ compensation suit for an injury to her right arm.

Initially, the arbitrator denied benefits, ruling that the injury—while it did occur on the job—did not arise from her employment at the firm. This is especially true because while the claimant was carrying baked goods for the office, it was her own decision to bring in the treats; no supervisor of the co-worker had required her to do so.

Simply, this ruling sets a precedent that an employer cannot be held liable under workers’ compensation for an injury that occurs on workplace premises if the employee who was injured as no “exposed to a common risk to a greater degree than the general public,” stated to the Bulletin.

This is what is known as a neutral risk. Injuries that occur due to a neutral risk are not compensable by the WCA unless the employee was exposed to the risk disproportionately to the general public. If, for example, the secretary was required to bring baked goods and had tripped on the stairs primarily because she was carrying them in a hurry to get back by an unreasonably mandated time, she may have had a case for compensation under the WCA.

If you or someone you know is considering filing for workers’ compensation but are not sure whether or not you qualify for benefits, the most important step is to seek the counsel of a legal attorney. Contact an Illinois workers’ compensation lawyer today.

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