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Employment-Related Risk Ruled Compensable

A plumber foreman was approved for workers’ compensation benefits despite a preexisting condition because he was injured as a result of an employment-related risk.

Injured While Climbing Stairs

In Novak v. MVP Plumbing, a 61-year-old plumber foreman injured his right knee as he was climbing a staircase repeatedly while carrying tools and equipment weighing as much as 70 pounds. His treating physician later recommended that he undergo a total knee replacement surgery. An expert medical witness for the plumber foreman also agreed that the surgery would be appropriate, noting that his work-related climbing aggravated a preexisting condition.

However, his employer’s retained expert argued that he had already reached maximum medical improvement shortly after the incident. Furthermore, the employer’s expert opined that the claimant’s symptoms were causally related to his preexisting knee condition.

Stemmed from Employment-Related Risk

The arbitrator for this claim ruled that the injury stemmed from an employment-related risk. The plumber foreman was awarded 16 weeks of Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefits, unpaid medical bills, and approval for his prospective surgery.

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC) affirmed the arbitrator’s decision, agreeing that the claimant suffered his injury as the result of an employment-related risk. The IWCC also went one step further by citing a ruling that was issued after the initial arbitration decision had been rendered and subsequent oral arguments had been presented.

McAllister Cited in IWCC’s Decision

In McAllister v. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, the Illinois Supreme Court found in favor of a restaurant sous chef who injured his knee when he moved from a kneeling to a standing position while trying to find a misplaced item in a walk-in cooler. In doing so, it reversed earlier decisions asserting that the claimant’s injury did not arise out of his employment because simply standing was a risk common to the general public.

The Court concluded that everyday activities and bodily movements at or near the workplace may be compensated if the activity that caused the injury “had its origin in some risks connected with, or incidental to, employment so as to create a causal connection between the employment and the accidental injury.” It also found that the sous chef’s injury was the result of a risk distinctly associated with his employment and therefore compensable.

In its decision in Novak, the IWCC utilized McAllister’s “arising out of” analysis, noting that the plumber foreman’s injury occurred when he traversed stairs while carrying heavy tools and equipment – a duty incidental to his assigned task which his employer would have reasonably expected him to perform. In light of this analysis, the IWCC concluded that the claimant’s injury arose out of his employment because it was the result of an employment-related risk.

Helping With Employment-Related Risk Claims

Illinois workers who sustain injuries related to their employment are generally eligible for certain benefits under the law. But proving that an injury is employment-related is sometimes no easy matter. To help overcome objections from employers and their insurance carriers and establish employment-related risk, thousands of injured workers have sought out the knowledgeable legal counsel of the workers’ compensation attorneys at GWC Injury Lawyers LLC.

With more than $2 billion recovered in verdicts and settlements, GWC is one of the leading Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury law firms in Illinois. For over four decades, our Chicago workers’ compensation lawyers have been fighting for employees in virtually every profession who were injured in nearly every type of circumstance. We have the experience, the determination, the resources, and the reputation of success necessary to get you and your family the justice you deserve.

If you have been hurt on the job, contact GWC today to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation case evaluation with an attorney. You may call our office at (312) 464-1234 or click here to chat with a representative at any time.