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How does being a traveling employee affect workers' compensation?

In Illinois, if you are an employee and travel is a part of your job, your workers' compensation coverage may be expanded beyond that of a regular employee. While truck drivers and delivery drivers are obvious examples of traveling employees, you may also be considered a traveling employee under the law if you are required to travel away from your company's premises to perform a job related task.

This can be anything from attending a meeting to picking up lunch for your boss in your personal vehicle. It does not, however, mean that you can collect if you are injured on your way to, or on your way home from, work.

The National Law Review recently reported on two significant court decisions that affect Illinois workers' compensation cases. In the first case, the employer's job involved driving an 18-wheel company-owned truck. However, he usually drove his personal vehicle from his house to his job before beginning work. In anticipation of a work shift that would have him away overnight, the employee was loading a suitcase into his personal vehicle at home when he injured his back. Because his injury while loading his car occurred neither in the course of his employment, nor arose out of his employment, the employee was not eligible for workers' compensation benefits.

In the other case, the employee worked as an inspector for the city and was injured while walking back to his car between job assignments. There was no argument whether he was a traveling employee, but whether his employer could have reasonably foreseen that he was more likely to be injured given his traveling employee status. The court found that, as a traveling employee the employee did have a greater risk of exposure to injury than other workers and the employer should have reasonably foreseen that.

Therefore, based on these court decisions, if you are on the road for a situation that arises out of and in the course of your employment and you are injured, you may be entitled to workers' compensation benefits. This information is provided for general purposes only and is not intended as legal advice.

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