Illinois lawmakers on Monday introduced workers compensation bills that would affect compensability on cumulative trauma and work travel.
H.B. 1543 would determine that an injury arose out of and in the course of employment only if the accident “significantly caused or contributed to both the resulting condition and disability.”
The bill doesn’t define “significantly caused,” so it’s not clear how that would compare to other causation standards such as major contributing cause, proximate cause and predominant cause.
Case law says only that workers must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the work incident or duties were a causative factor in an injury. That bill would limit coverage for cumulative trauma, prohibiting coverage for “ordinary, gradual deterioration or progressive degeneration of the body caused by aging or normal activities of living.”
It would also create a situation in which former employers could be liable for a cumulative trauma claim. If the duration of the repetitive or cumulative trauma is fewer than three months and there is evidence that “exposure to the repetitive or cumulative trauma with the immediate prior employer significantly caused or contributed to both the resulting medical condition and the disability, the prior employer shall be liable for the injury.”
Finally, the bill would declare that injuries, causation and disability must all be established “to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, based on objective relevant medical evidence.”
H.B. 1545 would codify when injuries sustained while traveling to or from work are compensable, declaring that a traveling worker’s injury arises from employment if the person is required to travel and, at the time of injury, was engaged in acts the employer instructed to perform, acts the worker has a duty to perform or acts the worker could be expected to perform.
The bill would expressly prohibit coverage when an accident is sustained while commuting to or from home and the place of employment, while running a personal errand or when the injury resulted from a personal risk.
This article was first published in Business Insurance.