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Clothing Mishap Causes Fall
Did injury arise out of employment?
The Injured Person
Pamela was an employee at a jewelry store in Indiana. Although her employer did not require her to do so, Pamela often wore nice clothing, trying to look stylish and professional for the customers she served.
The Facts of the Case
One day when Pamela was preparing her lunch, a customer arrived at the store. As she walked toward the customer, the zippers on the inside of her boots hooked together, causing her to trip and fall. Pamela tried to brace her fall by grabbing a nearby chair. When she grabbed the chair, it swiveled and she fell to the floor. Pamela suffered a right femoral neck fracture, which ultimately required her to have a hip replacement.
Pamela filed a Worker’s Compensation claim, which was denied by both the single member and then the full Worker’s Compensation Board on the basis that she was unable to prove that her injury arose “out of and in the course of” her employment.
Pamela then sought the counsel of Klezmer Maudlin, PC to help her appeal her case to the Court of Appeals of Indiana.
Although the Worker’s Compensation sole member and board determined that Pamela’s injury did not arise out of the course of her employment, the Court of Appeals was allowed to “disturb” this ruling “if the evidence is undisputed and leads inescapably to a result contrary.”
The Court considered the three categories of risks that are incidental to employment: (1) risks distinctly associated with employment, (2) risks personal to the claimant, and (3) risks neither distinctly employment nor distinctly personal in character. Ultimately, the Court of Appeals of Indiana determined that Pamela’s injury did arise out of her employment with the jeweler, saying:
“While her injury was the result of a personal choice of attire, the evidence was undisputed Pamela dressed up and attempted to look stylish for work. Accordingly, … (her) injury stems from a risk that is neither distinctly employment related nor distinctly personal in character; therefore, her injury falls within the third category and is covered by the Act.”
With the help of the attorneys at Klezmer Maudlin, Pamela successfully won her case and was granted the benefits she deserved to cover the costs incurred by her injury.