Recently, the First District Court of Appeal in Florida issued an opinion in an appeal involving claims from a teacher who suffered injuries after falling in a classroom where he worked. According to the record, the teacher sustained injuries after losing his balance because his leg fell asleep. The judge of compensation claims (JCC) denied his claims, reasoning that the teacher’s injury did not “arise out of” his work as a teacher.
The doctor performing the independent medical exam (IME) on behalf of the school district testified that the teacher reported occasional numbness before the accident. However, the numbness the teacher experienced after the fall was not related to any medical illness. Instead, the numbness the teacher experienced before the fall was likely the result of brief nerve compression. The teacher’s expert reached a similar conclusion. In response, the teacher argued that he sufficiently established “occupational causation” because the accident happened in the “course and scope” of his employment.
Florida’s Workers’ Compensation Act compensates an employee’s injury if it stems from an accident that “arises out of the work performed in the course and scope of employment.” Arising out of and in the course of employment refers to where and under what circumstances the incident occurs. Understanding that work causation is not always straightforward when the incident involves an idiopathic condition, the fact remains that there must be a causal connection between employment and injury.
In this case, the teacher did not provide a sufficient evidentiary basis to establish that he exerted or strained differently than he usually would. He did not establish that he was sitting for an unusually long period. Further, he did not prove that the chair he was sitting in was prone to causing his leg to fall asleep. Finally, the court did not find any work-induced reason for the teacher to jump up from his chair quickly. The court found that the teacher’s sitting before the fall was typical for an average amount of time, in a normal chair, and ended in a typical way. Although there was evidence that the teacher’s sitting at work was in the chain of causation, he failed to establish that it was anything more than an incidental trigger. As such, the court affirmed the JCC’s finding that the teacher’s fall did not “arise out of” his employment.
Have You Suffered Injuries While at Work
If you or someone you love has suffered a work-related injury, the Florida workers’ compensation lawyers at Friedman Rodman Frank & Estrada can help you understand your rights and effectuate your remedies. The attorneys on our team have successfully represented workers in and around Miami since 1976. In addition to Florida workers’ compensation claims, our office handles lawsuits involving motor vehicle accidents, products liability, premises liability, medical malpractice, and wrongful death. We have secured compensation for our clients’ medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Contact our team at 305- 448-8585 to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney on our team.