The worker had no memory of falling. On the day of the accident, he took prescription hydrocodone for a shoulder injury. He also regularly took prescription medication for hypertension and Xanax to reduce anxiety. He said he did not take Xanax on the day of the accident.
Co-workers did not see the worker fall. His supervisor said there were "platform beams" in the work area that the worker could have tripped over but she did not notice any slippery substances on the floor. An office manager said there were no objects or "slick spots" that the worker could have tripped over. A maintenance manager said he observed the worker on the floor having a seizure. He said there was nothing wet on the bottom of the worker's shoes and nothing that he could have tripped over.
A neurosurgeon opined that the worker's subarachnoid hemorrhage was caused by a blow to the head. The surgeon also said it was unlikely that the worker's fall was caused by a seizure.
The worker sought benefits. The manufacturer denied the claim. It conceded that his injury occurred in the course of employment but denied that it arose from the employment. The trial court denied benefits, explaining that the worker failed to carry his burden of establishing that the fall arose from his employment.
the trial court correct in finding the worker was not entitled to benefits?
A. No. The fall arose from the worker's employment since it occurred on the manufacturer's premises.
B. No. The worker's supervisor said that the worker could have tripped over objects near his work area.
C. Yes. The worker failed to prove a causal connection between the fall and his work conditions.
How the court ruled: C. In an unpublished opinion, the Tennessee Supreme Court held that the worker was not entitled to benefits. Byrom v. Randstad North American, L.P., No. M2011-00357-WC-R3-WC (Tenn. 03/08/12).
The court said that the worker presented several theories concerning the reason for his fall. The evidence did not support a conclusion that any one of the potential causes were more likely than not the actual cause of his fall and therefore the cause of his injury. The court said a finding of causation would be speculative.
A is incorrect. The court said that the mere presence of a worker at his place of employment will not alone result in the injury being considered as arising out of his employment.
B is incorrect. The court explained that although the supervisor said he could have tripped over objects near his work area, two managers testified to the contrary.
Editor's note: This feature is not intended as instructional material or to replace legal advice.
April 26, 2012
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