Last month, the Illinois Appellate Court, Workers’ Compensation Commission Division, expanded an employer’s potential liability in workers’ compensation cases in Boilingbrook Police Department v. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Comm’n, 2015 IL App (3d) 130869 WC. In this case, the Court held that an employer could be liable for an injury even if that injury takes place off of the employer’s premises, but while the employee was engaged in an activity incidental to his employment.
The issue in Boilingbrook was whether an officer who was injured while removing his duty bag, which held his service weapon, ammunition, and various other items, from his personal vehicle, was a compensable injury. The Court determined that:
[t]he evidence in the record supports a finding that, as part of his job duties, the claimant was responsible for the safekeeping of his duty bag. He testified that the employer required him to keep the duty bag with his person, presumably while on patrol. The evidence in the record also supports a finding that, at the end of his shift, the employer allowed him at least two options with respect to the job-related task of safekeeping the duty bag: securing the bag in lockers at the police station or securing the bag at his personal residence. Both options were apparently acceptable to the employer as many officers took their duty bags home at the end of their shifts, and the employer had no rule prohibiting the safekeeping of duty bags at officers’ personal residences. Therefore, regardless of which of the two options the claimant chose at the end of any given shift, the Commission could find that the responsibility for the safekeeping of the duty bag remained a job-related undertaking.
Boilingbrook Police Dep’t, 2015 IL App (3d) 130869WC, ¶ 41. Because the employee was required to safeguard the bag, whether at work or at home, the Court ruled that the safekeeping of the bag was a “job-related undertaking” and, thus, any injury occurring as a result of this safeguarding was a compensable injury. This is true even though the injury occurred before his work shift started. This ruling is important for employees throughout the State of Illinois as it expands their rights against their employers by broadening their ability to recover for injuries that take place away from the employer’s premises even when the action is taken voluntarily by the employee, so long as the act causing the injury was a job-related undertaking.
If you or a loved one has questions about a personal injury or workers’ compensation case, contact one of the experienced attorneys at Hipskind & McAninch for a FREE consultation: 618.641.9189 | 314.312.2930 | firstname.lastname@example.org