Failure to show layout of workplace leaves spider bite noncompensable
Case name: Wilson v. Ace Hardware Corp., No. 1719-10-2 (Va. Ct. App. 05/10/11, unpublished).
Ruling: In an unpublished decision, the Virginia Court of Appeals held that a forklift battery exchanger for a hardware store was not entitled to benefits for a spider bite he sustained at work.
What it means: In Virginia, a worker must show a link between the conditions of his workplace and the injury to prove the injury arose out of his employment.
A forklift battery exchanger for a hardware store primarily worked in the battery rack station but occasionally needed to get parts from metal shelves in a nearby storage area. He said he kept the battery rack station "very clean," but the storage area had several spider webs. While cleaning under the battery rack station with a broom, he felt something "sting" his finger. He noticed his finger was red. The next day, his hand was swollen and red. The following day, he went to the emergency room due to pain in his hand. He was diagnosed with cellulitis secondary to a spider bite and prescribed antibiotics and painkillers. He later developed an infection that spread to the rest of his body, requiring hospitalization. He sought wage loss benefits and payment for his medical expenses. The Virginia Court of Appeals held that he was not entitled to benefits.
The store did not dispute that the injury occurred in the course of the exchanger's employment. The court analyzed whether he proved the spider bite arose out of his employment. The exchanger argued that the presence of spider webs in the storage area showed that his workplace was infested with spiders, increasing his risk of being bitten. The court disagreed.
The court explained that a link must exist between the conditions of the workplace and the injury. The court noted that the bite occurred while the exchanger was cleaning the battery rack station, not the storage area that had spider webs. Nothing in the record showed the proximity of the battery rack station to the storage area. The evidence was insufficient to show the spider that bit the exchanger resulted from a peculiar condition related to his employment.
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July 7, 2011
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