Workers' Compensation

Chris T. Archer, Esquire

An “unexplained” fall can be compensable based upon reasonable inferences from credible evidence. Dorris v Stoddard County, No. 32830 (Mo. App. S.D., January 31, 2014), Sheffield, J.

Claimant was walking with her direct supervisor crossing a public street to review some new construction of a building built by the employer. The street they walked across had cracks in it and it was a busy street. She was watching for traffic and was not looking down at the pavement.  As they crossed the street, Claimant tripped and fell sustaining injuries to her shoulder.  The ALJ found the accident compensable and the commission affirmed.

On appeal, the employer argued that there was no direct testimony as to how the accident happened. Alternatively, they argued that the Claimant was equally exposed to the risk of her accident in her normal, non-employment life.

The court affirmed the award of compensation. “Contrary to the implicit assumption in Employer’s argument, nothing in the worker’s compensation law requires the claimant to testify to the exact cause of the accident. Rather, the commission is entitled to consider the evidence as a whole and rely on reasonable inferences.”  The court also rejected the argument that the claimant was “equally exposed”.