Barbara J. Dukich v. IWCC

ARISING OUT OF EMPLOYMENT – Neutral Risk Analysis

 

 BARBARA J. DUKICH v. THE ILLINOIS WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COMMISSION, 2017 IL App (2d) 160351WC

 

 

Petitioner fell on wet pavement on her employer’s premises when while walking to her car on lunch break she lost her footing and fell, sustaining injuries.  It was raining hard; she was carrying an umbrella and her purse.  Witnesses testified that there were no defects and no ice on the ramp. The arbitrator awarded benefits but the Commission reversed (with a dissent), finding that: 1) petitioner was carrying only personal objects; 2) she was not hurrying to complete an assigned task; 3) there was no defect in the walkway; 4) there was no accumulation of ice or snow causing the fall; and 5) the walkway was open to the general public.  Based on these factors, the Commission held that petitioner was not injured due to a work-related risk and that under a neutral risk analysis she failed to prove she was exposed to the risk of injury on the walkway to a degree greater than the general public.  The circuit court confirmed, stating that wet pavement was not a hazardous condition.  The Appellate Court affirmed, holding that an employer cannot be held liable merely because an employee is injured by exposure to the elements on its property.  All members of the public are exposed on a regular basis to the dangers created by rainfall.  These dangers are not distinctly associated with employment.  When analyzing the risks posed by exposure to the elements, neutral principles apply: injuries are compensable only if the employee shows she was exposed to an increased risk which petitioner here failed to do.  

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