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Lawmakers consider cumulative trauma, travel bills



Illinois lawmakers on Monday introduced workers’ compensation bills that would affect compensability for cumulative trauma and work travel.

HB 1543 would establish that an injury arose out of and in the course of employment only if the accident “substantially caused or contributed to both the resulting condition and the disability.”

The bill does not define “substantially caused,” so it is not clear how it would compare to other causation standards such as major contributing cause, proximate cause, and dominant cause.

Case law simply states that workers must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the work event or duties were a cause of an injury. That bill would limit coverage for cumulative trauma, banning coverage for “ordinary, gradual deterioration or progressive degeneration of the body caused by aging or normal life activities.”

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It would also create a situation where former employers could be liable for a cumulative trauma claim. If the duration of the repeated or cumulative trauma is less than three months and there is evidence that “exposure to the repeated or cumulative trauma at the immediately preceding employer substantially caused or contributed to both the resulting medical condition and the disability, the former employer shall be responsible for the damage.”

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.”

HB 1545 would codify when injuries sustained while traveling to or from work are compensable, and declare that a traveling worker’s injury arises out of employment if the person is required to travel and, at the time of the injury, was engaged in acts directed by the employer to perform, actions that the employee is obliged to perform or actions that the employee can be expected to perform.

The bill would specifically prohibit coverage when an accident occurs while commuting to or from home and place of employment, while running a personal errand, or when the injury is due to a personal risk.

WorkCompCentral is a sister magazine to Business Insurance. More stories here.


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