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.