If you are an employer in Illinois (and pretty much anywhere else), you most likely pay worker’s compensation insurance. This insurance provides an employee with benefits and protects an employer from getting sued when an employee is hurt at work. However, many employers are not clear on what injuries are covered by the Worker’s Compensation Act.
Employees will only receive worker’s compensation benefits if they suffer an accidental injury. An employee cannot recover for an injury he inflicted upon himself purposefully.
Two types of accidental injuries are covered by the Worker’s Compensation Act. The first type is an injury caused by a single traumatic event. An example of this type of injury would be if an employee fell off a ladder and broke his leg. The second type is an injury caused by repetitive trauma. This would include carpal tunnel system suffered by an employee from repeated typing.
Psychological and emotional stress injuries will probably not be covered by worker’s compensation unless they are the result of a traumatic event. If an employee suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder based on a traumatic injury at work, this probably will be covered. If the employee suffers from anxiety and depression due to job stress, this probably will not be.
Workers will only be entitled to worker’s compensation if their injuries arise out of and in the course of their employment. This means that a worker can only receive benefits if he is hurt performing a task that is a necessary part of his job. So, if a carpenter falls off a ladder repairing a broken door at the office, he will be eligible for benefits. However, if he falls off a ladder fixing a broken door at a friend’s house, he will not be eligible for benefits, even if he did so during working hours.
A worker will probably not be eligible for injuries occurring by acts of God. So, if a worker suffers injuries after being cut from glass from a tornado blowing out the windows in the worker’s office, he probably will not be eligible for worker’s compensation insurance. The exception to this, however, is if the employee is more susceptible to be injured due to acts of God because of his employment. This means that a meteorologist tasked with tracking a tornado will be eligible for benefits if he suffers injuries doing so.
Ultimately, whether an employee is covered by worker’s compensation can be a tricky issue. Ancel Glink has a number of experienced worker’s compensation attorneys, and we suggest that you contact them with any worker’s compensation questions.