Personal assistant's intoxication bars benefits for her fall at work
Case name: Kabler, 112 NYWCLR 263 (N.Y.W.C.B., Full Board 2012).
Ruling: The New York Workers' Compensation Board held that an assistant's claim was barred because her injury was solely occasioned by intoxication from alcohol while on duty.
What it means:
In New York, an employer is not liable for compensation when the injury was solely occasioned by intoxication from alcohol of the injured worker while on duty.
Summary: The board held that a personal assistant's claim was barred because her injury, sustained when she allegedly tripped over a handbag at a store and fell while working, was solely occasioned by intoxication from alcohol while on duty. Tests at the hospital indicated a .234 blood alcohol level. In denying benefits, the board noted that both the employer and a store employee observed the assistant at the time of the accident and never saw her trip over a handbag strap. Evidence indicated she fell due to a syncopal, or low blood pressure, episode, and the episode occurred while she was working. Furthermore, the evidence supported a finding that the assistant's syncopal episode was the result of alcohol intoxication. The hospital records and the description of the fall given by the assistant's employer and the store employee were reasonably sufficient for the board to conclude that the assistant's fall occurred as a result of her intoxication. There was no evidence of any other cause for her fall, and the board was not obligated to "expressly negate all the alternate hypotheses which might be considered as possible contributory factors." Because the assistant's injury was solely occasioned by intoxication from alcohol while on duty, the injury did not arise out of her employment.
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May 6, 2013
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