Claimant Awarded Disability Benefits

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The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC) awarded permanent disability benefits in November to a worker who injured his ankle at work, according to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Law Bulletin. The case established that even if a claimant can maintain the same job title after sustaining the injury, he may be eligible for workers’ compensation if the nature of the work has changed. If the claimant, that is, is unable to perform the work at the same speed or with the same ease as he could before the injury, he may be eligible for workers’ compensation even if he is able at the same time to keep the position. Claimant Awarded Disability Benefits

According to the Illinois Worker’s Compensation Commission Law Bulletin, “where the claimant’s job duties require post-injury modification, and he performs his duties at a much slower pace and is less productive than before his work injury, the claimant has suffered a deviation from his usual and customary line of employment.” If it can be established that the usual and customary line of employment has been altered by the injury, the claimant is eligible for workers’ compensation, as in this case.

Sherwood v. Ineos Nova LLC was initiated after a 2008 incident in which the claimant was climbing an icy tank. The claimant worked as a reliability technician, and “his duties included maintenance of the computer systems and equipment at the plant.” When he slipped climbing the icy tank, the claimant “ fell down a long set of stairs ,” shattering his left ankle. In early 2009, the claimant underwent surgery and physical therapy, and in March of that year returned to work.

Although the claimant’s job duties were in fact modified to fit his new restrictions, the IWCC awarded him workers’ compensation because “his age, profession, education, physical restrictions, and nature of the injury make it highly unlikely that the claimant could obtain a position elsewhere in his chosen profession.”

The ruling is important because it sets a precedent that even in cases in which the employer correctly and sufficiently modifies a job description to fit restrictions of an injured worker, the worker could still be eligible for compensation. If you or someone you know is seeking disability benefits, the most important first step is to seek the counsel of an attorney. Contact the Law Offices of Francis J. Discipio today.

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