Sales Manager Wins Benefits For Wipeout On Public Sidewalk

Case name: 

Principe v. Rubinelli

Inc., 15 ILWCLB 254 (Ill. W.C. Comm. 2007).

Ruling:

The Commission held that the claimant was a traveling employee and that her injury, which occurred after making an unscheduled visit to a client, arose out of and in the course of her employment.

What it means:

In order for a traveling employee’s injury to arise out of and in the course of her employment, her conduct at the time of the injury must be reasonable and foreseeable by the employer.  An employee’s act of walking on the sidewalk back to her car after making an unscheduled stop to attempt to collect a debt from a client satisfies this test.

Summary:

The claimant worked as a sales manager in a family-run business that manufactures, distributes and sells Italian food products.  Her duties included training and supervising the sales staff and managing major independent accounts.  Her job required her to travel three to four days a week to meet with sales representatives. She visited supermarkets and specialty grocery stores.  On the day of the accident at issue, the claimant traveled from her home in Naperville, Illinois to a store in Chicago Illinois.  She met with a sales representative, taught the representative how to set up the defendant’s goods and left the store.  She then drove to another grocery store. Although she did not make an appointment, she visited the store in order to work out a repayment agreement with the owner.  The store was behind in their payments to the defendant.  The claimant entered the store and asked for the owner.  Upon learning that the owner was not available, the claimant exited the store.  As she was walking back to her car, her shoe got caught in a crack in the sidewalk and she fell. The arbitrator determined that the claimant was a traveling employee and her accident arose out of and in the course of her employment.  The act of walking on the sidewalk after visiting a client was an activity that the employer could have foreseen.  Furthermore, the arbitrator found that the claimant’s actions were reasonable. Although the claimant injured herself in a public place, the accident occurred after performing work in furtherance of her employer.  Upon review, the Commission affirmed and adopted the decision of the arbitrator.