The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC) recently approved benefits for a field revenue auditor who was injured in a road rage assault. Even though the motivation for the incident was not work-related, the IWCC determined that the road rage assault was compensable both because the claimant was not the instigator and because he was performing reasonable and foreseeable actions of his job as a “traveling employee.”
Road Rage Assault
In the matter of Prince v. Illinois, State of/Dept. of Revenue, the claimant was employed by the State of Illinois as a field revenue auditor. His job duties required him to travel to businesses and verify that the owners were in compliance with Illinois tax laws.
On June 25, 2013, Mr. Prince was driving to meet with a taxpayer when he passed another motor vehicle. The driver of the other vehicle apparently became enraged and began pursuing him. Passengers in the pursuer’s vehicle also threw objects at Mr. Prince’s vehicle. When both vehicles came to a stop at a red light, four men from the other vehicle got out, pulled Mr. Prince out of his vehicle, and assaulted him. After the road rage assault, Mr. Prince returned to his vehicle and followed his assailants’ vehicle in order to obtain its make, its model, and its license plate number to give to police.
Compensable Because of Traveling Employee Status
The arbitrator for Mr. Prince’s workers’ compensation claim determined that he was entitled to receive benefits because he was injured while acting in a reasonable and foreseeable manner in his capacity as a “traveling employee.”
Though he had an office in the State of Illinois Thompson Center, Mr. Prince was seldom at it. On a typical workday, Mr. Prince was scheduling appointments or going to meet with his assigned taxpayers. Because of the nature of his work, Mr. Prince’s job duties required him to be on the road 90 percent of his day traveling to meetings at businesses. Though he used his own vehicle to travel to and from appointments, he was compensated for his mileage by his employer. Consequently, Mr. Prince was classified as a “traveling employee.”
According to Illinois workers’ compensation law, most employees traveling to and from their jobs are not covered for injuries they sustain during their commutes. One exception to this rule is the traveling employee.
A traveling employee is one that is required to travel away from an employer’s premises to perform his or her job, as in the case of a field revenue auditor. Because of the nature of their jobs, traveling employees would be covered for any injuries they sustained while traveling, as such traveling arises out of and in the course of their employment, provided that their actions are considered reasonable and foreseeable by their employers.
Reasonable and foreseeable actions would include:
- Actions that an employer specifically instructs an employee to perform;
- Actions that an employee has a statutory or common law duty to perform; or
- Actions that an employee may be expected to perform in the course of carrying out the duties of a job.
As the arbitrator in this matter determined, as long as Mr. Prince was acting in a reasonable and foreseeable manner, the road rage injuries he sustained would have been compensable because they would have arisen out of and in the course of his employment.
According to Mr. Prince’s own testimony, he never deviated from his route to the taxpayer until his road rage assault occurred. He was also not the instigator of the assault. Moreover, though he deviated from his route to the taxpayer to follow his assailants’ vehicle, he did so out of a desire for his assailants to be apprehended by the law, not for revenge, which the arbitrator determined to be reasonable. Given their fact pattern, Mr. Prince’s injuries arose out of his employment, making them compensable.
The IWCC affirmed and adopted the arbitrator’s decision.
Illinois Workers’ Compensation Attorneys
Knowledge of workers’ compensation law is essential to make sure that one receives adequate compensation for one’s on-the-job injuries, even in unusual instances such as a road rage assault. For this reason, many injured workers find that they might benefit from the assistance of an experienced attorney, such as the Illinois workers’ compensation attorneys at GWC Injury Lawyers.
With over $2 billion recovered for our clients and offices throughout the state, GWC is Illinois’ largest Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury law firm.
If you have been injured in the course of your employment, please contact GWC to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation consultation with one of our attorneys. Call our office at (312) 464-1234 or click here to chat with one of our representatives at any time.<< BACK TO BLOG POSTS