No benefits if injured on work premises before shift started?

by A

I work for a park reserve in Illinois. We sleep on the premises sometimes. I chose to sleep there this night as the job was to clear snow with snow plows. I wanted to make sure at least I was able to get out and plow when my shift started. There has never been a problem with me being there and doing this in the past.

It had been snowing for three days non stop. I slipped on soapy mop water at work and fell on my knee. I was able to plow the parking lot to make sure the other people coming in to plow could park, then went to the doctor. I was due to work at 5am on the night of 1/1/2014. The fall took place at 10:30pm 12/31/13. I chose to stay because I knew there would be drunk drivers out, and the roads were terrible. My car is not the best in snow of any kind.

My job is now telling me that they will fight it and not pay because they know I can't afford a lawyer. They are saying I opted to be at work before my shift started. I just want the medical bills paid. Is there anything I can do?

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "No benefits if injured on work premises before shift started?":

A (Illinois):

It’s incredulous your employer told you they will fight your workers compensation claim because “they know you can’t afford a lawyer.” This is especially interesting as your employer is a governmental agency. It’s truly hard to believe a governmental employee would say something like that.

In any event, you may have the basis of a workers compensation claim if:

1. Your supervisor authorized you to sleep on the premises; and

2. Your supervisor had the authority to authorize you to sleep on the premises; and

3. Your supervisor knew you stayed on the premises between shifts and “ratified” your doing so by not telling you it was against company policy to stay on the premises (this is the most tentative argument).

Your decision to stay on the premises because of your well-founded fear of drunk drivers will have little or no effect on your claim.

In light of your employer denying your claim, you would be well-served by seeking the advice and counsel of an experienced workers compensation attorney. Your attorney will have great leverage based upon your employer’s statement they know you won’t fight the case. That’s something your employer doesn’t want brought up in an administrative hearing.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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