Ridge & Downes - Law Firm

  • Fundraising Appeal to Defeat Gov. Scott Walker of WI

    You may be asking yourself, “Why should I care about a recall election in Wisconsin when I live in Illinois?”  The answer is clear – if Scott Walker remains the Governor of Wisconsin, his assault on collective bargaining and public employees will continue and travel south to Illinois. His actions have already inspired Illinois politicians to attack pensions and retiree health benefits.  We must stand in solidarity with the workers of Wisconsin and reject the growing movement against unionization and workers’ rights in this country.  This has become a national campaign about workers’ rights.

    On June 5th, there will be an election to recall Gov. Scott Walker.  Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is the candidate to support.  Recent polls show that Walker retains an edge over Barrett.  We must act now and help the working people of Wisconsin!

    Last summer, Walker’s anti-collective bargaining bill received overwhelming national opposition that ultimately led to a federal court striking down part of the law.  Walker’s strategy has been to “divide and conquer” Wisconsin workers.  This strategy will spread across the country if workers everywhere don’t come together again in opposition of Walker.

    A governor has only been recalled twice in U.S. history.  However, no recall election has ever had this much support.  Over 1 million signatures were collected in just three months to support Walker’s recall, but only funds can make this a reality.  To stand up with the people of Wisconsin in support of workers’ rights, please donate to the recall campaign by clicking here.

    Please forward to your family and friends who may be concerned about maintaining the rights of the middle class.

    To read more facts about why Scott Walker should be recalled, click here.

  • Traveling Employee Exception

    Travel is often a necessary part of employment. Meetings, seminars, conferences, and training opportunities may require travel. Injuries to employees whose job duties require them to travel away from their primary place of employment are not governed by the same rules that are applicable to employees who work in a single location. 

    There is an often overlooked concept in workers’ compensation law known as the “traveling employee exception.” When using this exception, the determination of whether an employee’s injury is related to his/her employment depends on the reasonableness of the conduct that resulted in the injury and whether the conduct would normally be anticipated or foreseen by the employer when an employee is traveling. 

    There are several instances where this exception has allowed for favorable verdicts for injured workers. One notable case is Bagcraft Corp. v. Industrial Commission, where an employee was visiting a paper mill as a representative of his company. The employee was housed overnight with other employees at a lodge that offered recreational activities in which many of the employees participated. One of the activities offered was a ride on an All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV). Unfortunately, the employee was involved in an accident on his ATV and ultimately died. Applying the traveling employee exception as guidance, the Appellate Court ultimately found in the employee’s favor. 

    Similarly, Ridge & Associates successfully persuaded the Illinois Appellate Court to hold that our client, a firefighter attending an out-of-town seminar, was considered a traveling employee. While traveling, the firefighter’s co-worker initiated horseplay activities, which were found to be reasonable and foreseeable. As such, he was awarded all of his benefits due under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act.
    Cases that involve traveling employees are very fact-specific. As such, an insurance company will undoubtedly look for ways to deny payment of benefits. If you find yourself in a situation involving an injury that occurred while on employment-related business or travel, it is best that you contact an attorney immediately to ensure that your rights are protected and you are afforded all appropriate benefits under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act.

  • How the AMA Guides can affect your case

    Section 8.1b of the newly amended Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act states that Arbitrators must now consider the American Medical Association’s “Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment” as a factor in deciding permanency awards.  This means that employers and insurance companies will hire doctors to rate an injured worker’s impairment based on the guidelines in this book. 

    An arbitrator recently approved a settlement contract for an injured worker who suffered a torn meniscus.  The injured worker did not hire an attorney and negotiated his settlement with an attorney for his employer’s insurance company. The lawyer showed the injured worker a report which stated his impairment was 1% of the lower extremity. The injured worker then agreed to settle his case for 1.5% loss of use of the leg. This is compared to the 15% to 20% loss of use generally awarded in this type of case.

    What the injured worker did not know is that the Arbitrator could have considered more than the impairment report. The Act requires the Arbitrator to take into account the injured employee’s occupation, age, future earning capacity and evidence of disability corroborated by medical records.  By not having an advocate on his side this injured worker agreed to accept about twenty times less than his case was worth.

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