Comp Covers Wipeout En Route to Lunch
Wafford v. Shelbyville Manor, 21 ILWCLB 156 (Ill. W.C. Comm. 2013)
Ruling: The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission held that a worker was entitled to temporary total disability benefits for her fall while exiting her workplace to take her lunch break.
What it means: In Illinois, a worker’s accidental fall while exiting her employer’s building arises out of and in the course of her employment when her working conditions created a risk uncommon to the general public.
Summary: A nursing home worker was walking across the lobby at the employer’s facility to take her lunch break when she dropped a bottle of water. She said that after she picked it up, she lost her balance and fell. The worker had two bags in her hands, and she was hurrying, as she was taking her lunch later than the time she had been instructed by her supervisor. She had been told to exit through the front doors during her lunch break. A witness testified that the worker was “hunkered over” to avoid the administrator. The commission affirmed the decision of the arbitrator awarding the worker temporary total disability benefits.
The arbitrator said that the issue of whether the floor was slippery did not matter. The worker was rushing across the lobby to comply with her employer’s instructions regarding taking her lunch break. The arbitrator also noted that even if the worker was hunkered over to avoid the administrator, she was doing so in an effort to get out of the building quickly. The urgency of the situation created a risk uncommon to the general public. Therefore, the worker’s accident arose out of and in the course of her employment.