Asthma attack treated as accidental injury, not occupational disease
Williams v. Valley View Health and Rehabilitation, LLC, No. 2090366 (Ala. Civ. App. 09/10/10).
Ruling: The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals held that the trial court improperly failed to consider a nurse's claim of accidental injury. The court sent the case back for further proceedings. A dissenting judge stated that the nurse's claim was for an occupational disease.
What it means: Alabama law treats asthmatic episodes and similar adverse reactions to one-time, work-related chemical exposure as accidental injuries.
Summary: A nurse suffered an asthma attack at work. She contended that she suffered a reaction to chemicals used to strip and wax the floors. She filed a complaint alleging that she sustained injuries due to the specific incident. The health center argued that the nurse could not recover workers' compensation benefits because she did not contract an occupational disease. The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals held that the trial court improperly failed to consider the nurse's claim of accidental injury. The court sent the case back to the trial court for further consideration of the claim.
The court found that the nurse had not claimed that she suffered from an occupational disease. She did not allege that she contracted asthma due to a long-term exposure to the working conditions in her employment. The court stated that asthmatic episodes due to one-time chemical exposure are treated as accidental injuries in Alabama.
The court noted that the nurse alleged that she provided the health center with notice of her injury, which was a requirement for accidental injuries but not for occupational exposure.
A dissenting judge stated that the nurse characterized her claim as an occupational disease and that she argued she suffered an accidental injury for the first time after her trial.
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December 6, 2010
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