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Restaurant Work Injuries in Illinois

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that more than 67,000 food prep, waiters, and waitresses were hurt on the job badly enough to lose at least one day of work in 2008. At least 20 percent of those hurt on the job lost 31 or more days of work. In fact:

  • More than half of the waiters’ and waitresses’ injuries involved a cut, burn, sprain or strain;
  • Approximately 32 percent involved an injured hand or wrist; and
  • About 22 percent involved an injured back or shoulder.

The sprains, strains, and injuries to backs and shoulders were associated with the carrying and handling that waiters and waitresses commonly engage in. Certain types of injuries – such as back pain, tendonitis or carpal tunnel syndrome – are most often due to chronic overuse of the muscle, and develop over time. These types of injuries are known as repetitive motion injuries. Other injuries occur suddenly, perhaps from a slip and fall.

Workers in the food service industry must usually complete their work at a fast pace. When this is combined with hot food, heavy trays, and floors that may have spills or grease on them, it is easy to see why accidents are common. Restaurant owners have a responsibility to protect their employees from accidents and injuries, and when wait staff are injured on the job, they are entitled to workers’ compensation, and may also have a third-party personal injury claim.

Some of the most common factors involved in waiter and waitress injuries at work include the following:

  • Balancing and lifting heavy trays;
  • Slip and fall accidents, particularly on a greasy kitchen floor;
  • Uneven floor surfaces or broken steps on stairways, which cause falls;
  • Burn injuries resulting from carrying hot food or drinks;
  • Back strain from lifting and moving tables and chairs;
  • Excessive noise, leading to hearing loss; and
  • Exposure to harmful chemicals.

Strategies for Dealing with Chicago Waiter/Waitress Injuries

Waiters and waitresses in the Chicago area who have been injured on the job may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. This is true whether the injury was a result of the owner’s negligence, or the result of a mistake made on the part of the worker. In rarer cases, if it is found that the owner of the restaurant maintained the facility poorly, or subjected workers to significant hazards, a personal injury lawsuit – or even a class action suit – against the owner could be possible.

Those who are entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits following an on-the-job injury could receive payments for medical expenses, loss of income, and disability. Medical expenses can include emergency medical care and hospitalizations, and follow up care. The workers’ compensation insurance carrier will also cover referrals to a specialist, such as an orthopedic physician or physical therapist. In some cases, chiropractic treatments may also be allowed. In the case of a catastrophic injury, workers’ compensation will cover the costs of medical equipment and, possibly, counseling and pain management.

The waiter or waitress who is out of work, due to an on-the-job injury, will typically receive two-thirds of their average weekly wage. If the injured worker is able to return to work, but is making less money as a result of the injury, he or she may be able to receive temporary total disability benefits to make up for the pay shortage. In the case of a permanent injury, which would prohibit the worker from ever returning to any type of work, workers’ compensation may pay permanent total disability benefits or permanent partial disability payments. Because the calculation of what is owed a worker following a workplace injury can be disputed by the workers’ compensation insurance company, it can be extremely beneficial to speak to a knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney.

Preventing Chicago Waiter and Waitress Work Injuries

In order to minimize injuries sustained by wait staff, the following safety standards should be adhered to:

  • Keep floors and stairs clear of obstructions;
  • Clean greasy floors throughout the day to avoid slip and falls;
  • Ensure that rugs, mats, and carpeting are free of loose edges or other trip hazards;
  • Make it a policy to immediately clean up a spill;
  • Clearly mark swinging doors with in and out signs;
  • Have all workers wear slip-resistant shoes, and
  • Train workers to properly carry heavy trays.

Young restaurant workers are particularly vulnerable to work-related injuries, as they are likely to be inexperienced and unfamiliar with many of the tasks required. Young workers may also be unaware of their rights as workers, and less able to recognize workplace hazards.

Contact Our Chicago Workers’ Compensation Lawyers

At Malman Law, our Chicago workers’ compensation attorneys are dedicated to assisting waiters and waitresses who have been injured on the job. We are available 24/7 to help you with any questions or concerns that you may have, and are ready and willing to fight for you. Please call (888) 307-7068 or fill out our free online consultation form today.

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