Employer not responsible for dental benefits for fainting employee
Case name: Blankenship-King v. K-Mart Corp., 23 MIWCLR 261 (Mich. W.C.A.C. 2010).
Ruling: The Michigan Workers' Compensation Appellate Commission affirmed the denial of dental benefits arising out of a cashier's idiopathic, level floor fall.
What it means: In Michigan, an employer does not have an obligation under the workers' compensation statute to provide medical care for nonwork-related ailments.
Summary: A cashier was working at a register when she felt ill. She called her supervisor to relieve her. The supervisor did not inquire about her illness, find her a place to sit, or offer to escort her. She fainted and fell while walking to the break room, shattering her teeth and cracking her chin.
The commission rejected the cashier's claims that her employer's lack of response contributed to her fall. The commission explained that because the cashier did not know what caused her to faint and she did not slip or trip, her fall was considered idiopathic. The allegation that the employer's lack of response contributed to the fall was based on pure speculation, it noted.
The court noted that although both sides agreed her need for additional dental work was related to the incident, an injury is not compensable just because it occurred at work. It also pointed out that level-floor falls are generally not compensable unless the employee can show "the location of the fall aggravated or increased the injury."
The commission pointed out that the escort would have to be of a certain size, have sufficient strength, and have quick enough reflexes to catch a fainting employee. The evidence did not show that if she had been provided an escort to the break room or the nearest seat that the outcome would have been different.
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March 22, 2010
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