In a case involving a schoolteacher obtaining an increased award of permanency from the Commission on appeal, both the arbitrator and the Commission decided in favor of the teacher (even though the Commission was more generous in awarding benefits). See Preschool teacher wins PPD award for arm, shoulder injuries. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Law Bulletin, Volume 29, Issue 8, June 25, 2021, pp. 6-7. The case discussed in the article, Cross v. Champaign County Headstart, 29 ILWCLB 86 (Ill. W.C. Comm. 2021), involved a teacher at a preschool who was injured on the job, in two separate incidents that occurred within five months of each other, with the first accident involving the teacher being tripped by a child crawling between her legs, while the second accident involved her being kicked and hit by a larger, older child. The teacher was examined by physician(s) and was diagnosed with a SLAP tear in her right shoulder, undergoing surgery to repair the aforesaid tear a few months later. At hearing, the arbitrator analyzed the teacher’s overall condition and situation under Section 8.1(b) of the Illinois Worker’s Compensation Act (or “WCA”), and determined that the teacher suffered a 10 percent loss of the person as a whole. On review, the Commission increased the amount of the teacher’s permanency finding, by engaging in a more detailed analysis of the factors considered when making a permanency determination under Section 8.1(b) of the WCA. The Commission gave some weight to the teacher’s age (54 years when the accident(s) occurred), which meant that she still had more years ahead of her in which to work, and it (the Commission) gave considerable weight to the teacher’s occupation as an educator (especially since she needed physical assistance with some of her duties, as a result of the incident(s) at work). While the Commission gave less weight to the teacher’s future earning capacity, since she returned to the same job that she held before the accident, the Commission greatest weight of all to the last and final factor: evidence of the teacher’s disability. Indeed, the teacher had undergone continual treatment for her right shoulder and arm injuries, including the aforementioned surgical SLAP tear repair, and she continued to display and report ongoing, diminished strength, which meant that she could not be teaching alone in a classroom, and needed assistance from a continually present coworker, especially for some of her more physically demanding duties. As a result, the Commission increased the amount of the teacher’s permanency award to 15 percent loss of the person as a whole. This must have been a pleasant and welcome surprise for the teacher, considering what she had endured, in terms of both workplace physical trauma and the lengthy benefit claims process.
Preschool teacher wins PPD award for arm, shoulder injuries. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Law Bulletin, Volume 29, Issue 8, June 25, 2021, pp. 6-7.