Posted On: September 26, 2010 by Steven J. Malman

Injured Special Ed TA to Receive $30,000 from School District in Addition to Illinois Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Kimberly Stapinski, a special education teacher's assistant who was injured when she fell during gym class has settled her civil lawsuit with the Plainfield School District for $30,000. The settlement is separate from the benefits she has received for Illinois workers’ compensation.

Stapinski was working at an elementary school when the Will County, Illinois fall accident happened on April 16, 2006. She injured her back and neck (court records indicate that she sustained two herniated intervertebral cervical discs). Stapinski was later fired from her job.

While the district has said the TA was let go from her job because she did not return to work and failed to offer documentation explaining her continued absence, Stapinski’s attorney argued that his client had medical excuses from two doctors and there was no legitimate reason for why she was fired. Stapinski filed a complaint claiming the school district had let her go as retaliation for getting hurt on the job and for submitting an Illinois workers’ compensation claim.

Before Stapinski underwent surgery, the district asked that a physician of their choosing conduct an independent medical evaluation. That doctor, Chicago orthopedic surgeon Charles Mercier, certified that her medical condition and pain were not work-related and that she should go back to work. However, Stapinski was not told of Mercier’s findings until the school district recommended that she be fired.

Stapinski had sought at least $50,000 for embarrassment, emotional suffering, inconvenience, humiliation, lost wages, employment benefits, compensatory benefits, and legal fees.

Illinois Workers' Compensation
Under Illinois workers' compensation law, employees injured on the job are entitled to work injury benefits. Their employers are not supposed to retaliate against them for seeking compensation for a work injury or illness.

District pays aide $30,000 in injury dispute settlement, Plainfield Sun, September 20, 2010

Illinois Workers' Compensation Act (PDF)

Related Web Resource:
Are You Eligible for Workers' Compensation Benefits?, Nolo

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