Case name: Ex parte Advantage Resourcing, Inc., No. 2100716 (Ala. Civ. App. 04/20/12).
Ruling: The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals held that a driver was entitled to benefits for the injuries he sustained when he fell at work.
What it means: In Alabama, a worker's injury arises from his employment if it occurs at a time and place he would reasonably be expected to have been in furtherance of the employment relationship.
Summary: A 72-year-old dump truck driver reported to his customary place of work. He entered the shop by using a walkway that extended from a nearby parking lot. The driver realized that he left his portable two-way radio in his car, so he returned to the parking lot to retrieve it. As he was walking on the walkway back to the shop, he turned around to look at something happening behind him. He resumed moving forward and slipped on a piece of piping that had rolled under his foot. He fell onto his back and right side and immediately experienced pain. He was unable to get up but called coworkers for help on the two-way radio.
An industrial medicine practitioner initially believed that the driver's neck pain stemmed from arthritis. An MRI revealed foraminal stenosis and an accumulation of fluid in his neck. An orthopedic surgeon recommended surgery, but the employer declined to authorize it. The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals held that the driver was entitled to benefits.
The employer argued that the driver's injury did not arise out of and in the course of his employment. The court disagreed, noting that at the time he fell he was returning to his workplace after having gone to his car to retrieve a two-way radio, which was a tool of his work. The walkway was used by other workers at the time the driver fell and sustained his injury. The court said that the fall occurred at a time and place where the driver would reasonably be expected to have reported in furtherance of the employment relationship.
The employer also contested medical causation. The court found that although the driver suffered degenerative stenosis before the injury the condition remained latent until his workplace injury.
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June 4, 2012
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