Jones v. Kidde Technologies, Inc., No. COA12-1463 (N.C. Ct. App. 06/18/13, unpublished).
Ruling: In an unpublished opinion, the North Carolina Court of Appeals held that an attendant was not entitled to benefits for the back injury he sustained while walking.
What it means: In North Carolina, a worker's onset of pain while walking at his workplace is not a specific traumatic incident to support an award of benefits.
Summary: A stockroom attendant was walking down an aisle in the stockroom when he turned and his back "locked up." He fell to his knees in pain. He was carrying a small plastic bag and not anything of substantial size or weight. He explained that he "may have turned wrong." He was diagnosed with acute lumbosacral strain.
The hospital noted that the attendant previously suffered similar episodes. One year after the episode, he filed a workers' compensation claim. The North Carolina Court of Appeals held that he was not entitled to benefits.
The court found that the attendant's injury did not result from a specific traumatic incident. He was simply walking in the stockroom when he experienced back pain. His back gave out for "unknown reasons," and his pain was unrelated to his employment. The court pointed out that pain is not a specific traumatic incident.
The court rejected the attendant's argument that the specific traumatic incident he suffered was the action of walking and turning. The court said that the twisting motion that occurs when one turns could not be separated from the fluid act of walking.
The court also found that the attendant's injury was "unrelated to the nature of his employment." The court explained that generally every worker must walk through a hall or aisle during the course and scope of his employment. The court said that sustaining an injury while walking on an employer's premises is not a risk that a reasonable person would contemplate as incidental to the employment. Also, the attendant's duties did not predispose him to an increased risk of sustaining an injury while walking at work.
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September 30, 2013
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