Illinois Supreme Court Rules on
under Workers Comp Law
Employee took job 200 miles
from home, injury while
commuting not compensable
In Venture-Newberg-Perini, Stone & Webster v. Ill Workers’ Compensation Commission, No. 115728 (Ill. 2013) the Illinois Supreme Court at the end of last year clarified the “traveling employee” exception. Some state appellate courts had held that an employee sustaining an injury on the way to work could be entitled to workers comp benefits if certain exceptions applied, where otherwise such an injury did not arise out of and in the course of employment.
The first condition was that the method of travel had been determined by the “demands and exigencies” of the job rather than the claimant’s personal preference. The second was that the person was a “traveling employee” and the injury arose out of and in the course of this worker’s employment.
In this case Daugherty took a job 200 miles from his home and he and a coworker elected to stay at a hotel some 30 miles from the plant, after each 12-hour shift, rather than drive each day to and from their homes. On their second day of work the co-worker, while driving his truck, skidded on ice while crossing an overpass, resulting in injuries to Daugherty. The latter filed an application for adjustment of claim with the Commission.
In upholding an arbitrator’s finding that the injury was non-occupational, the supreme court considered these points: 1) Daugherty was not required to accept the temporary employment, and would have been prohibited from taking it under his union’s rules had there been work for Daugherty in the union’s jurisdiction, 2) Daugherty had worked for the employer a few times before, 3) he was not reimbursed for travel and lodging, 4) he was not paid for travel time, 5) the employer had not required to the two workers to car pool, 6) Daugherty had made his own travel and lodging arrangements, and 6) the employer did not require Daugherty to relocate or commute in any particular fashion.
When employing workers who will be commuting over great distances, a letter stating that they are responsible for the costs of commuting, and that commuting time is not work time and the worker will receive no compensation for it.