Illinois Court of Appeals finds fall on stairs to be non-compensable
The Illinois Court of Appeals recently decided the case of Lampert v. IWCC. You can read the entire decision by clicking here.
Petitioner was a registered nurse, and after working a full shift at the hospital she clocked out and headed to the parking lot. She exited the hospital to a set of carpeted stairs, and as she descended the stairs, she slipped off the top step and fell all the way down the flight of stairs, causing a serious injury to her left ankle.
At the time of the event, she had a personal bag over her shoulder but her hands were free. She wasn’t holding anything. She admitted that the stairs and parking lot were both open to employees and the general public.
The Arbitrator denied the claim, holding that Petitioner failed to establish her injury “arose out of” employment. Petitioner appealed the decision to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission which also denied the claim.
The Court of Appeals upheld the denial of compensability, holding that there was no evidence presented to distinguish the outdoor stairs claimant was traversing, even if those stairs were potentially wet from rainfall, similar to any other typical outdoor stairway to which the general public would be exposed.
The court also stated that it did not have any evidence suggesting that petitioner was more likely to slip and fall on her employer’s premises than any other member of the public would be likely to fall on any other outdoor stairway that was exposed to rainfall (citing Dukich v. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission).
Under Illinois law, there must be something “extra” for injuries on stairs to be compensable. The claimant must be carrying something, there must be a defect on the stairs….anything. In this case, claimant simply tripped and fell and the Court of Appeals rightly determined that the claim was not compensable.
Had the stairs been accessable only to employees and not to the general public, this case might have gone the other way.
This is a breath of fresh air from a court system (Illinois) that is anything but employer-friendly! If you have any specific cases where this decision might apply, please call or email me to discuss.