Case name: Dovell v. Coffeewood Correctional Center, No. 0744-11-4 (Va. Ct. App. 01/24/12, unpublished).
Ruling: In an unpublished decision, the Virginia Court of Appeals held that an officer was entitled to compensation for his leg injury.
What it means: In Virginia, an injury arises out of the employment when a worker shows that a condition of his workplace caused or contributed to his injury.
Summary: A senior correctional officer was assigned to supervise inmates from a raised chair at an elevated desk and to answer the door and the telephone. When the doorbell rang, he slid down from the raised chair to the floor and felt shooting pain and a tingling sensation in his leg. The officer sought benefits. The Virginia Court of Appeals held that the officer was entitled to compensation because he established that his injury arose out of his employment.
The correctional facility's safety officer told the officer that the chair was missing a safety bar that would have hung at the same height as where the officer's feet dangled. The officer said he was not previously aware of a missing safety bar because the chair never had one since he started using it. The officer said he would have used the safety bar like stepping down a set of stairs.
The facility did not dispute that the officer's injury occurred in the course of his employment but argued that his injury did not arise out of his employment. The employer did not argue that the officer's injury flowed from some source other than his attempt to answer the doorbell by leaving the raised chair he was required to sit in. The court said that although the height between the officer's feet was the same as the height of a normal step, it was not the height of the drop from a normal chair to the floor. The officer had to contort his body to slide down from the raised chair before his feet would touch the floor. The court concluded that his action was not an action that he would have been equally exposed to apart from the conditions of his employment.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
March 1, 2012
Copyright 2012© LRP Publications