Court reinstates injured crossing guard’s comp benefits

An Illinois appeals court has reinstated the workers compensation benefits of a crossing guard injured in a slip-and-fall incident, ruling that a lower court was wrong to overturn the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission’s awarding of medical benefits in the case.

The First District Appellate Court of Illinois, Workers’ Compensation Commission Division Thursday determined that the commission was correct to award benefits to Jacqueline MacDonnell-Dayhoff after she fractured her wrist when she slipped on a patch of ice in a parking lot upon her arrival to work in February 2014.

An arbitrator in July 2019 found that the claimant did not sustain a work-related injury and denied her benefits, but the commission later reversed that determination, finding that while the parking space where the woman fell was open to the general public, the police department allowed employees (including civilian employees such as crossing guards) to park there, and therefore her injury was compensable.

The Circuit Court of Cook County reversed the commission’s decision in November 2021, finding that the claimant’s injury did not occur in a parking lot provided by the Village of Western Springs Police Department, and that it did not arise in the course of her employment.

The appeals court said although slip-and-fall incidents that occur while an employee is walking to work off-premises are generally not compensable, recovery is permitted when the worker is injured in a parking lot provided and maintained by the employer.

In this case, the appeals judges agreed with the commission that the accident occurred in a municipal-owned parking lot and that the injury arose out of and in the course of the claimant’s employment.

This article was first published in Business Insurance.

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