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The “Long Tail” of on-the-job injuries

James L. Ball vs. State of Wyoming, ex rel., Wyoming Workers’ Safety and Compensation Division

The Wyoming Supreme Court recently ruled that the medical costs related to a hernia—caused by a malfunctioning electrical spinal-cord stimulator—were the responsibility of his former employer, where he became disabled 15 years earlier. The treatment was related to a 1993 workplace injury. While the laws governing secondary injuries vary by state, injured workers in states without specific legislation can make the argument that the secondary injury is related to the original job-related injury.

Worker injured on smoke break is awarded comp benefits

Jonesboro Care and Rehab Center vs. Ronna Woods

At the conclusion of a weekly mandatory meeting, the Rehab Center hands out paychecks. Rather than wait in a long line, a nursing assistant went outside to the designated smoking area to have a cigarette. As she walked over to a trash can with her lighted cigarette in her hand, she fell on the pavement and broke her left arm. The state’s high court concluded that “a reasonable person could reach the same decision as the Commission based on the facts in the record and find that [injured employee] was continuing to advance her employer’s interests, at least indirectly, by remaining on the premises until she had received her paycheck, filled out any necessary paperwork, and clocked out.”

Employee’s injuries not barred by Going and Coming Rule

Leordeanu v. Am. Prot. Ins. Co., 2010 Tex. LEXIS 894 (Tex. Dec. 3, 2010)

The claimant was a pharmaceutical sales representative who left a company – sponsored dinner in a company vehicle and was injured in a motor vehicle accident while driving to a company-provided storage unit adjacent to her apartment, which also served as her home office. In an 8-1 decision, the Supreme Court of Texas has reversed an earlier decision by the state’s Court of Appeals and indicated the employee was within the course and scope of her employment in spite of the fact that she was homeward-bound. The Texas Supreme Court held the dual-purpose doctrine only applies to travel between work and some other location aside from home. The coming and going rule applies to travel between home and business. Since the claimant was traveling from a company-sponsored event to a storage unit for work purposes, she was in the course and scope of her employment at the time of the accident.