Technician's burn wounds justify 35 weeks of disfigurement benefits
Case name: Allen v. Jiffy Lube, 20 ILWCLB 17 (Ill. W.C. Comm. 2011).
Ruling: The Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission held that a technician was entitled to permanent disability benefits for the injury he suffered when he was set on fire as a prank by a coworker.
What it means: In Illinois, a nonparticipating victim of horseplay can recover workers' compensation benefits.
Summary: A lube technician for an automobile maintenance business was waiting for the first automobile to arrive, so he sat and used a handheld device. He suddenly felt something tingling in his back and realized that his coat was on fire. He ran around the garage and eventually smoldered the flames. A surveillance video showed that a coworker set his coat on fire, apparently as a prank. The technician sustained a burn to the right side of his back with blistering and slouching. He also hurt his back while attempting to smolder the flames on a garage door. He occasionally experienced back pain, and his burn wounds healed. He stated that he was self-conscious of the scars. The commission found that he sustained 35 weeks of serious and permanent disfigurement and permanent disability to the person as a whole to the extent of 3 percent.
The commission agreed with the arbitrator's finding that the technician was a nonparticipating victim of horseplay. He was sitting and "minding his own business." The surveillance video did not show him speaking with the coworker who set him on fire. There was also no evidence suggesting that a dispute existed which might have led to an assault by the coworker.
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April 19, 2012
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