Increased risk of injury on stairs scores benefits for casino worker
Case name: Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino v. Phillips, No. 53191 (Nev. 09/30/10).
Ruling: The Nevada Supreme Court held that a worker's injury arose out of the course of her employment, entitling her to benefits.
What it means: To determine whether an injury resulting from a neutral risk is compensable, Nevada courts consider whether the worker was subjected to a risk greater than that which the general public is exposed.
Summary: A poker and blackjack dealer for a casino was taking a mandatory break and walking down the stairs that led to the employee break room when she fell. The dealer did not claim that the stairs were defective or contained debris. X-rays revealed that the dealer fractured her ankle. The casino's third-party administrator denied compensation and the dealer sought a hearing. The parties did not dispute whether the injury occurred during the course of her employment but argued whether her injury arose out of her employment. The Nevada Supreme Court held that the dealer was entitled to benefits because her injury arose out of the course of her employment.
The court categorized the dealer's injury as a neutral risk because it occurred while going down a staircase that was free of defects, and there was no evidence that a risk personal to the dealer caused her to fall. Applying the increased-risk test, the court concluded that the frequency the dealer was required to use the stairs at work subjected her to a significantly increased risk of injury than the risk faced by the general public. The dealer was required to take six breaks a day and no evidence showed that employees were permitted to use any other means to reach the break room besides the stairs.
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December 20, 2010
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