Workers' Compensation

Chris T. Archer, Esquire

A truly unexplained fall is not compensable. Porte v. RPCS, Inc., No. 32492 (Mo. App. S.D., June 26, 2013), Francis, J.

An 83 year old claimant fell and broke her hip in his Employer’s bathroom. The claimant had no recollection of how or why she fell. There were no witnesses to the incident and no evidence or testimony that the floor was wet or of any other apparent cause for her fall. There was testimony that the claimant had an unsteady gait prior to the incident.

The ALJ denied the claim and the commission affirmed the denial stating the claimant failed to identify a specific risk or hazard that resulted in the claimant’s fall.

The court affirmed the denial of compensation as the claimant failed to show a “causal connection between her injury and her work activity…under 287.020(2)(b)”

A co-employee driver of a company car is afforded the protection of immunity from a fellow employee’s civil suit for “ordinary” negligence, consistent with Hansen v Ritter, 375 S.W.3d 201, (Mo. App. W.D. 2012). Carman v. Wieland, No. 98872 (Mo. App. E.D., July 16, 2013), Mooney, P.J.

Claimant was struck by a fire truck that was backing up to park into their fire house. The claimant was seriously injured in the accident. She received worker’s compensation benefits for the compensable accident and sued the driver of the fire truck for her injuries. 

The court affirmed the granting of summary judgment on the part of the driver finding that the claimant failed to define a duty owed that was breached. “Critically, a co-employee’s personal duties to fellow employees do not include a legal duty to perform the non-delegable duties belonging to the employer under the common law.’ Citing Hansen v Ritter, 375 S.W. 3d 201.

The allegation that the driver operated the truck negligently is a breach of a duty of the Employer to provide a safe working environment.  “[T]he plaintiff failed to allege any duty independent of the employer’s non-delegable duty to provide a safe working environment…”