Governor JB Pritzker has activated 250 members of the Illinois National Guard for State Active Duty in response to the warnings issued this week by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) regarding threats to state capital cities in the days leading up to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. At the request of the U.S. Department of Defense, the Governor also activated an additional 100 members of the Illinois National Guard in support of the 59th Presidential Inauguration in Washington D.C. These additional troops will join the approximately 200 members of the Guard that were previously activated by the Governor. What happens if  an officer, warrant officer or enlisted member of the Illinois National Guard is injured while he or she is on duty?

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act states that for purposes of the Act, members of the National Guard are considered employees of the State while on active duty in service of the State in Section 1(b). The Military Code of Illinois  addresses treatment and compensation for members of the Illinois National Guard who are injured while on duty and lawfully performing the same. Section 52 of the Code states:

Officers, warrant officers, or enlisted personnel of the Illinois National Guard who may be injured in any way, including without limitation through illness, while on duty and lawfully performing the same, are entitled to be treated by an officer of the medical or dental department detailed by the Adjutant General, or at the nearest appropriate medical treatment facility if such an officer is not detailed. Officers, warrant officers, or enlisted personnel of the Illinois National Guard who may be wounded or disabled in any way, while on duty and lawfully performing the same, so as to prevent their working at their profession, trade, or other occupation from which they gain their living, are entitled to be treated by an officer of the medical or dental department detailed by the Adjutant General, or at the nearest appropriate medical treatment facility if such an officer is not detailed, and, as long as the Illinois National Guard has not been called into federal service, are entitled to all privileges due them as State employees under the “Workers’ Compensation Act”, approved July 9, 1951, as now or hereafter amended, and the “Workers’ Occupational Diseases Act”, approved July 9, 1951, as now or hereafter amended. For purposes of this Section, injured, wounded, or disabled “while on duty and lawfully performing the same” means incurring an injury, wound, or disability while in a State military status pursuant to orders of the Commander-in-Chief, except when the injury, wound, or disability is caused by the officer’s, warrant officer’s, or enlisted personnel’s own misconduct. 20 ILCS 180-5/52. 

This means that as long as the Illinois Guardsman is injured while in a State military status, he or she is entitled to the protections of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act and the Illinois Occupational Diseases’ Act so long as the injury, wound or disability is not caused by the Guardsman’s own misconduct. It is important to note that if the Guard is federalized, an injured Illinois Guardsman is no longer considered a State Employee, and therefore would lose any protections afforded by the Workers’ Compensation Act and / or Workers’ Occupational Diseases Act.

If you are a member of the Illinois National Guard injured while on active duty in service of the State of Illinois, do not hesitate to contact me for a free consultation.