This is a Virginia case, however probably same result in Illinois.
McDonald’s Manager Saves Bag of Fries, But Sustains Neck Injury
A Virginia appellate court affirmed an award of workers’ compensation benefits to a fast food manager, working at a McDonalds restaurant, who testified that she felt a pop in her neck followed by a burning pain when a small bag of French fries slipped from her hands and she impulsively bent over quickly to catch the bag before it hit the floor. The employer had denied the claim, citing Plumb Rite Plumbing Service v. Barbour, 8 Va. App. 482, 382 S.E.2d 305 (1989), in which the court held that the simple act of bending over, absent any unusual or awkward movement does not provide a sufficient nexus to the employment to meet the “arising out of” standard. The court stressed that in the instant case, however, the record revealed more than mere bending. When the bag of fries slipped, the manager was required to bend, jerk, and twist, and to do so quickly. The combination of these motions was done to advance employer’s business—timely serving the drive-thru customers without throwing away the fallen food and preparing new food. The court acknowledged that people routinely bend in their everyday activities, but here the combination of quickly bending, twisting, and jerking as necessitated by the job-related circumstances was sufficient to remove the actions from a “risk of the neighborhood” to a natural incident of the work.