The Illinois Industrial Commission Held That Carpenter Was Entitled To Benefits For Injuries Sustained While Driving To Central Facility

The Commission held that claimant’s injuries sustained while traveling to work arose out of and in the course of employment, where claimant had to drive to work every day in order to use his personal means of transportation to discharge his job duties.

Claimant, a carpenter, testified that he was driving to defendant’s central facility to sign in for the day when his truck was struck from behind. He testified that he was required to provide his own hand tools in order to perform assigned work. His toolbox weighed 45 to 50 pounds and was kept in his pick-up truck. He was required to drive to a central location to sign in for the day and receive his work assignments. Sometimes he would be required to remain at the central shop facility to work all day. However, two to three times a week he was assigned to work at other locations and would drive there from the central facility. He was required to have a car or a truck in order to drive to the various jobs locations as needed. If he had to haul building materials to the work site, he would carry them in his own pick-up truck. He would also haul defendant’s power tools if required on the job.

The arbitrator found that claimant failed to prove he sustained accidental injuries arising out of and in the course of employment, relying on Martinez v. Industrial Commission, in which the claimant was denied benefits for injuries sustained in an automobile accident while traveling to work.

The Commission reversed, distinguishing the instant case from Martinez.

In the instant case, as a clear condition of employment, claimant was required to own an insured vehicle and possess a valid driver’s license to provide a means of transportation for himself once he was on the job. Without this means of transportation, claimant would have been unable to travel with the necessary tools and materials to the various distant job locations at which defendant required claimant to work. Further, the requirement to provide his own hand tools and their bulk necessitated the means to transport them from job to job as well. Driving his vehicle to work was a necessity of claimant’s employment. The Commission noted that in Martinez, the claimant had no requirement for his automobile once he arrived at work and he could have used any means of transportation. Also, the claimant in Martinez knew exactly where he would be working on the day he was injured driving to work. The instant claimant did not know his assignment for the day until he signed in at the central facility. The Commission determined that claimant had to drive to work every day in order to use his personal means of transportation to discharge his job duties. Therefore, claimant’s act of driving to work and having his means of transportation available once he was on the job was clearly within the scope of his employment.