Pregnant worker's collision with wall renders fall compensable
Case name: Manhattan Psychiatric Center, 113 NYWCLR 86 (N.Y.W.C.B., Full Board 2013).
The New York Workers' Compensation Board found that an aide who hit her head on the wall and fell to the floor while walking out of the ladies' room at work sustained an accident arising out of and in the course of her employment.
What it means: In New York, where a worker's fall is caused by a reason personal to the worker, the board must consider whether the fall was impeded by the work environment. If the fall was unimpeded by the work environment, the claim is not compensable.
Summary: The New York Workers' Compensation Board reversed the workers' compensation law judge and found a mental health aide who hit her head on the wall and fell to the floor while walking out of the ladies' room at work sustained an accident arising out of and in the course of her employment. She was six months pregnant at the time of the incident. She said that she did not trip over anything.
Medical evidence indicated that the aide suffered a vasovagal reaction due to her pregnancy, causing her to pass out and fall as she exited the bathroom. While falling, she struck her head on a wall, which caused a concussion and spine injuries. Because the wall was part of the aide's working environment and a factor in her injury, the injury was covered.
The board explained that in the "combination of circumstances out of which the accidental injury arose," the wall's interference with the aide's fall was one of the "co-operating causes" of the injury.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
September 9, 2013
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