Case name: Pearson v. Worksource, No. 11-1295 (Ark. 11/01/12).
Ruling: The Arkansas Supreme Court held that a worker suffered a compensable injury to his toe as a result of wearing ill-fitting, work-supplied boots.
What it means:
In Arkansas, the fact that a worker could not determine the exact moment he sustained an injury does not prevent him from proving that he suffered a compensable injury as a result of a specific incident.
A worker who was diagnosed with diabetes was employed by a staffing company. He was assigned to work for a company that processed and distributed steel. He said that he had no problem with his left great toe before going to work. The steel company provided him with steel-toe boots. The worker was assigned a task that involved walking at a fast pace. Within a couple hours, his toe began to bother him and his foot continued to be sore over the course of the day. He felt his toe rubbing against the side of the boot. When he went home at the end of the day, he noticed a blister on his toe. He reported the injury to the company and requested wider boots. He was diagnosed with a diabetic ulcer and cellulitis and underwent surgery. The worker sought benefits. The Arkansas Supreme Court held that he suffered a compensable injury.
Medical notes by the worker's doctors indicated he reported that he acquired the blister from wearing steel-toe work boots. The fact that the worker could not identify the exact moment the blister emerged was not determinative. The worker only had to prove that the "occurrence of the injury was capable of being identified." The court said that the evidence constituted a compensable injury as a result of a specific incident that occurred while doing his job.
The court explained that there was an "obvious, direct correlation" between the worker's blister and the specific incident that he claimed caused the injury. The case did not involve an unexplained injury.
Because the court held that the worker's injury was caused by a specific incident, it did not address the rapid repetitive motion claim for a gradual onset injury.
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February 4, 2013
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