Attendant's wipeout while retrieving school materials not compensable
Case name: McDuffie v. Medical Center Enterprise, No. 2110696 (Ala. Civ. App. 09/14/12).
Ruling: The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals held that a hospital employee was not entitled to benefits for her fall on stairs after the end of her shift.
What it means: In Alabama, a worker's injury while walking to her car after the end of her shift is not compensable if she was not attempting to leave work and was retrieving nonwork-related items from her car.
Summary: A patient care attendant for a hospital attended college to earn her nursing degree. As part of her schooling, she participated in "clinicals" at the same hospital where she worked. At the end of her shift, she changed from her "scrubs" that she wore for work into the nursing "whites" she was required to wear for her clinicals. She clocked out and went to the hospital lobby to meet her clinical supervisor and the other nursing students. She realized that she left a folder of materials that she needed for clinicals in her car. The clinicals supervisor told her to get it. She fell on stairs in the hallway leading to the parking lot and broke her arm. She sought workers' compensation. The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals held that she was not entitled to benefits.
The attendant asserted that she was injured while exiting the hospital at the end of her workday. The court pointed out that the hospital did not contribute to the attendant's education or benefits by her participation in clinicals. The hospital showed that at the time of her injury she was pursuing her education and the accident did not arise out of or in the course of her employment.
The court said that the attendant did not show that her trip to her vehicle was related to her employment. She was not attempting to leave work. The court also said that the short period of time between her leaving work and her injury did not determine compensability.
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November 15, 2012
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