Bus driver's gradual-onset injury lacks proof of rapid, repetitive motion
Case name: Pulaski County Special School District v. Stewart, No. CA10-49z (Ark. Ct. App. 06/16/10).
Ruling: The Arkansas Court of Appeals held that a bus driver's gradual-onset injury was noncompensable because she failed to show the injury was caused by rapid repetitive motion.
What it means: A gradual-onset injury may be compensable in Arkansas if a claimant can show that the injury was caused by rapid and repetitive motion.
Summary: A substitute bus driver began experiencing pain in her upper right arm. An MRI revealed that she had a torn shoulder. The driver had surgery. She sought workers' compensation benefits, asserting that the tear came on gradually from operating the bus door and steering wheel. The Arkansas Court of Appeals held that the torn shoulder was not compensable because it did not qualify as a gradual-onset injury.
The district argued that the driver's motions were not rapid or repetitive. The fact that an employee engages in repetitive tasks is not necessarily sufficient, the court observed. The repetitive tasks must be completed rapidly. In this case, the employee established neither element. The court found the driver operated the door about five times per hour, and there was no other evidence about the interval between each event or how long it took to complete the task. As to the steering issue, there was no evidence about how often the bus pulled to the side, how it affected the driver's shoulder, or how quick or frequent her resulting movements were.
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September 9, 2010
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