Unexplained Falls are not Compensable in Alabama
On March 1, 2013, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals released its opinion in Ex Parte Russell Threadgill wherein it denied in part and granted in part the employee’s petition for mandamus relief.
At trial, the employee claimed that he had two accidents. His first accident allegedly resulted in injuries to his back, left leg, right arm, and right shoulder. His second accident allegedly resulted in injuries to his left ankle and right shoulder. The employee testified that his second accident was the direct and natural consequence of injuries resulting from the first accident. Specifically, he claimed that the tingling and numbness in his left leg from the first accident caused him to fall. The employer presented medical evidence that rebutted the employee’s claims by demonstrating that the employee had not been experiencing those problems prior to the second accident. The judge ultimately held that the employee’s second accident was not a direct and natural consequence of his previous injuries. Additionally, the judge found that the second accident was not compensable because the employee could not show that his employment caused him to roll his ankle and fall.
The Court of Civil Appeals agreed that substantial evidence supported the trial judge’s finding that the employee’s job did not cause the second accident and that the second accident was not a direct and natural consequence of his previous injuries. However, the Court found that the trial judge erred in denying benefits for the right shoulder injury solely on the grounds that the second accident was not compensable. The Court stated that evidence indicated the shoulder injury may have been the result of the first accident and that the trial judge failed to resolve that dispute. The trial judge was therefore directed to determine whether or not the right shoulder injury was the result of the first accident.
My Two Cents:
Because the Court granted the employee’s petition in part, the trial judge will likely do one of two things: Either find the shoulder injury was the result of the first accident and award benefits or find that the shoulder injury was not the result of the first accident and deny benefits.
About the Author
This blog post was written by Trey Cotney, Esq. of Fish Nelson LLC, a law firm dedicated to representing employers, self-insured employers and insurance carriers in workers’ compensation matters. Fish Nelson is a member of The National Workers’ Compensation Network (NWCDN). If you have any questions about this article or Alabama workers’ compensation issues in general, please feel free to contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org or any firm member at 205-332-3430.