Inability to show unusual or extraordinary exertion shuts down officer's claim
Verburg v. Labor Commission and Ogden City Police Dept., No. 20080139-CA (Utah Ct. App. 10/30/08, unpublished).
What it means: Under Utah law, if an employer establishes that a preexisting condition contributed to an employee's injury, the employee must prove that he was engaged in unusual or extraordinary exertion when his injury occurred.
A police officer with a preexisting cervical injury hit his head while getting into his patrol car. His vision "went dark" for a short time and his pain increased for weeks after the accident. The board reversed an administrative law judge's determination that the officer was entitled to workers' compensation benefits. Because the officer had a preexisting cervical injury, he was not entitled to workers' compensation unless he demonstrated that his injury was the result of unusual or extraordinary exertion. The Court of Appeals upheld the denial of the claim. The officer failed to demonstrate that the impact he experienced "was in any way greater than a typical, everyday bump on the head." It also highlighted the commission's explanation that the officer's exertion was difficult to characterize because "there is no way to determine the force with which he hit his head on his car door."
December 1, 2008
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