Ridge & Downes - Law Firm

  • 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.

  • Trucking Accidents in Illinois

    Each year, thousands of motorists are critically injured when passenger vehicles and commercial trucks collide.  As the number of commercial trucks on the road steadily increases every year, inevitably so will the number of serious accidents. A collision with a large truck can be devastating for the driver and any passengers in the car. The truck's sheer size and power leave the car’s passengers at risk for serious personal injuries or even death. 

    In 2008, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported 144 fatal crashes with large trucks in Illinois. Federal and state codes, designed specifically to protect motorists from the negligence of untrained commercial truck drivers and trucking companies, regulate the safe operation of large trucks. At Ridge & Associates, we are familiar with those laws and regulations and can provide well informed advice to you or any of your loved ones who have been involved in a trucking accident in Illinois. 

    Trucking accidents can happen for a variety of reasons, which vary from relatively simple errors, such as excessive speed, driver fatigue or inexperienced driving, to more complicated and serious reasons, which include, ignoring regulations that require companies to limit the number of hours their drivers are on the road, carrying excessive or unsafe loads and drug or alcohol use on the part of the driver. 

    In addition, the list of possible defendants in a trucking accident goes beyond just the driver of the truck. The company that owns the truck can also be held liable, as can the owner of the load, the owner of the trailer carrying the load, the truck manufacturer, the tire distributor, or others, depending on the cause and circumstances of the accident. 

    The law limits the time you have to pursue a legal action against a negligent party so it is important to obtain sound legal advice as soon as possible. More importantly, it is imperative to obtain quick access to the evidence and witnesses surrounding a trucking accident, as this will often be a crucial factor in winning a case. In addition, trucking companies and their insurance carriers will have investigators in place within hours of an accident occurring.

    At Ridge & Associates, we have the knowledge, resources and expertise to handle any question you may have surrounding this important area of personal injury law so please do not hesitate to call us if you have further questions about this area of the law.

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