Recently, an Illinois police officer injured his back while loading a 40 pound duty bag into the trunk of his personal vehicle as he prepared to report to work. It is reported that the officer was dressed in his work attire, but he was not on duty at the time of the accident, and it was not close to the time for him to report to the police station. He was not entitled to overtime while performing work duties at home, and he wasn’t being paid for loading his duty bag at the time of the accident. He contacted a Chicago workers compensation attorney, however, and promptly filed a claim.
The court ruled that testimony proved that it was the obligation of the police officer to keep the duty bag and its contents (which were items and equipment required for him to perform his work) safe. It was also determined that keeping the bag in his own garage was an acceptable means of storing it. The employer argued that onsite lockers were provided as adequate storage for the bag, but the claimant countered that such storage was not required.
According to reports, the incident aggravated a previous back condition and later resulted in the officer requiring back surgery. While the accident did not occur on the employer’s premises, nor did it happen where the officer was expected to be performing work duties, the officer was engaged in an activity that was beneficial to his employer and was reasonably expected of him. The court ruled in favor of the officer, stating that he has been performing duties reasonably expected as part of his job duties, and the employer was held liable. Chicago workers compensation attorney Neal Strom agrees, stating that “Anytime a worker is performing reasonable duties that benefit his or her employer, that employer should be held liable for injuries sustained.”