Special Hazard Rule Covers Employee in Workers’ Compensation Case

In an unpublished opinion, The Illinois Appellate Court held that a bus driver’s injury — resulting from tripping over a mat while leaving a work meeting — arose out of her employment.

The bus driver claimed an injury to her leg while attending a compulsory meeting for 200 workers held at a school. The driver claimed to have tripped over a bunched-up mat as she exited, resulting in a knee injury and distal fracture. The driver claimed workers’ compensation benefits.

The employer did not dispute that the driver was in the course of her employment at the time of the injury, but did dispute the allegation that the injury arose out of her employment.

The Illinois Appellate Court held that the worker was entitled to benefits because she was required to be at the location where the accident occurred and because the location was controlled by her employer. The court rejected the employer’s argument that the case involved the risks inherent to walking on a mat that confront any member of the public. According to the court, the bunched-up mat constituted a “dangerous condition of the premises,” adding that special hazards, when encountered as a result of using ordinary access routes, arise out of employment.

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