Child welfare worker wins benefits for injuries in workplace restroom
Case name: Davis v. Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, 19 ILWCLB 189 (Ill. W.C. Comm. 2011).
Ruling: The Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission awarded benefits to a worker who sustained injuries when she fell in the restroom at work because her employment was a contributing factor in the accident.
What it means: In Illinois, a worker's injuries arise out of her employment if her employment was a contributing factor in the accident.
Summary: A child welfare specialist and call floor worker's employment required her to take incoming phone calls concerning abused and neglected children. The call floor was understaffed. She took her designated break to use the restroom. While she was washing her hands in the restroom, she heard a coworker call out her name and thought she was needed for an urgent call. As she turned around to respond, she ran into the garbage can located in the restroom, which began to fall. She attempted to grab the garbage can to keep it from falling, but she fell to the floor and injured her spine and knee. The arbitrator found the claimant's accident arose out of and in the course of her employment and awarded benefits. The commission affirmed the arbitrator's decision.
The commission said it was undisputed that the accident occurred in the course of the claimant's employment, as she had gone to the restroom for her personal comfort during her designated break. The evidence showed that her fall was due to her response to the coworker's call for her. Thus, some phase of the worker's employment was a contributing factor in the accident.
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January 26, 2012
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