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Employee Loses When Accident Video Contradicts Her Claims of What Caused Her Injury

by | Mar 16, 2022 | Firm News |

In a case involving an employee’s claims – of both how her work injury occurred and what the actual nature of her injury was – being subsequently refuted and contradicted by video surveillance footage showing something completely different from what the employee asserted had taken place, both the arbitrator and the Commission held against the employee. See Video of work accident doesn’t support claimant’s version of events. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Law Bulletin, Volume 29, Issue 11, August 13, 2021, page 6.[1]  In the case discussed in the article, Bankston v. Chicago Transit Authority, 29 ILWCLB 118 (Ill. W.C. Comm. 2021), a Chicago Transit Authority bus driver was allegedly injured when the bus that she was driving was rear-ended by another vehicle.  The driver claimed that the accident impact was a heavy one, in part due to the other automobile having its front end smashed in, but also due to the aforesaid car’s airbags having deployed as well.[2]  The bus driver further asserted that her body was abruptly moved forward by the momentum and force of the impact to the bus’s rear, and that as a result, her left knee may have hit and/or come into contact with the fare box near the bus driver’s seat.  One of the bus driver’s treating physicians even recommended that she undergo surgery.[3]  However, the arbitrator denied the bus driver benefits at hearing, primarily because in the video footage from inside the bus, it was clearly showed and demonstrated that the driver’s left knee neither touched nor otherwise came into contact with anything on the inside the bus during the accident.  In fact, the video also showed the driver getting up right after the accident and moving around the inside of the bus without any difficulty.[4]  At the most, based on the majority of the medical opinions obtained and rendered in the case, the bus driver suffered left knee sprain during the accident, which eventually resolved on its own without the need for further treatment. Thus, based on the foregoing evidence and analysis, the bus driver’s condition and/or state of ill- being, in relation to her left knee, were shown to be unrelated to and/or not caused by the accident.[5]  The driver predictably appealed, but on review, the Commission affirmed (and adopted) the arbitrator’s decision.[6]

While this case may seem at first glance to be rather unusual, it probably is not that out-of-the-ordinary, since it is foreseeable, especially on a city bus, that there would be recorded video footage from inside the bus itself.  Indeed, there are many valid reasons to have such footage available on a public vehicle like a bus, and if the video happens to record what occurs inside the bus when an accident takes place, all the better, especially if this can help both an arbitrator and the Commission decide the merits of someone’s worker’s compensation claim.

[1]Video of work accident doesn’t support claimant’s version of events. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Law Bulletin, Volume 29, Issue 11, August 13, 2021, page 6.

[2]See Id.

[3]See Id.

[4]See Id.

[5]See Id.

[6]See Id.