'But for' test rejected, cashier's unexplained fall not compensable
Case name: Brown v. Patton d/b/a Korner Store, No. 1080960 (Ala. 04/22/11).
The Alabama Supreme Court held that a cashier was not entitled to benefits for a broken wrist she sustained from an unexplained fall.
What it means: In Alabama, in order for a worker's injury to be compensable, it must occur both in the course of the worker's employment and arise out of the employment.
Summary: A cashier at a convenience store inexplicably fell and broke her wrist while she walked to the front of the store after she refilled her coffee cup. She sought benefits. The store denied benefits, arguing that the cashier's fall was either due to an idiopathic characteristic or to an unexplained, but not work-related, cause. The Alabama Supreme Court denied benefits to the cashier, finding that she did not establish causation.
The court explained that the court of civil appeals incorrectly stated that to receive benefits, the cashier only had to show she sustained an accident while working. The court explained that it historically rejected a "but for" test in favor of a "causal connection" test. The causal connection test is based on language in the workers' compensation law that requires a worker's injury to occur both in the course of the worker's employment and arise out of the employment to be compensable. The "but for" test was contravened by the law and the rationale behind the court's previous rejection of the test.
The court said that in a similar case, the worker was denied benefits because she was unable to identify a work-related cause for her fall.
A concurring judge agreed that a causal connection between the cashier's employment and her injuries was not shown.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
June 13, 2011
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