Larson’s Spotlight on Recent Cases: Safety Inspectors Granted Immunity From Liability Under Workers’ Comp Act

Larson’s Spotlight on Recent Cases: Safety Inspectors Granted Immunity From Liability Under Workers’ Comp Act

Larson's Spotlight on Willful Misconduct, Intoxication, Agility Test, and Cross-Examination of Physician. Larson's surveys the latest case developments that you need to know about. Thomas A. Robinson, the staff writer for Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, has compiled the list below.

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IL: Safety Inspectors Enjoy Immunity From Liability Under the Workers' Compensation Act

While it is axiomatic that the employer generally enjoys immunity from suit by an injured employee for negligent inspection of machinery and/or the work premises, such has not always been the case for insurers and others who perform safety inspections on behalf of the employer. Responding to an early line of cases that held carriers and others liable for negligent inspection, a number of states amended their workers' compensation acts so as to include carriers and certain others performing inspection services within the definition of "employer." The Illinois statute [820 ILCS 305/5(a)] is an example. Within that context, an Illinois appellate court recently affirmed an order granting summary judgment in favor of defendant safety inspectors in a personal injury action arising from plaintiff employee's fall into a floor opening that was part of a manlift (a vertical conveyor belt system use to move personnel from floor to floor). The court agreed that the Illinois legislature clearly intended to extend the immunity granted to an employer under the Workers' Compensation Act beyond the insurer of the employer for a common law action for the negligent performance of gratuitous safety inspections and safety engineering service.

See Mockbee v. Humphrey Manlift Co., Inc., 2012 Ill. App. LEXIS 395 (May 18, 2012).

See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, § 114.02.

MS: Amendment Providing for Direct Appeal From Workers' Compensation Commission to Supreme Court Is Constitutional

In a divided opinion, the Supreme Court of Mississippi has held that the 2011 amendment to Miss. Code Ann. § 71-3-51 that provides that, from and after July 1, 2011, decisions of the Mississippi Workers' Compensation Commission may be appealed directly to Mississippi Supreme Court, rather than to the circuit court, as required under the previous version of the § 71-3-51 was constitutional. The court added that in a legitimate exercise of its constitutional authority, the legislature created an inferior court when it gave the Mississippi Workers' Compensation Commission the power and authority to make decisions that were conclusive and binding in as much as Miss. Code Ann. § 71-3-51 (2011) stated that the final award of the Commission was conclusive and binding unless either party to the controversy appealed within 30 days.

See Johnson v. Sysco Food Servs., 2012 Miss. LEXIS 220 (May 3, 2012).

See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, § 124.02.

TN: Worker's PTSD Claim Denied Where Evidence Indicated He Exhibited Severe Psychiatric Problems Less Than One Month Prior to Industrial Accident

The Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court of Tennessee recently affirmed an award of workers' compensation benefits for a wrist injury, but denied them for additional claimed injuries, including PTSD, where one of worker's treating physicians indicated the worker had sustained zero impairment as a result of his alleged back and neck injuries and where the worker's treating psychiatrist testimony established that the worker suffered from severe psychiatric problems at the time of the worker's discharge from an outpatient program less than one month before the accident that gave rise to the claim.

See Wheeler v. Cleo Wrap, Inc., 2012 Tenn. LEXIS 310 (May 16, 2012).

See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, § 130.05.

NY: EMT's Injuries Sustained in Auto Accident After Receiving Flu Vaccine Were Compensable

A New York appellate court recently affirmed an award of workers' compensation benefits to an EMT worker who sustained injuries in a one-car accident as she traveled home from a clinic where she had received a swine flu vaccination. The court agreed that the worker's injuries were compensable pursuant to Volunteer Firefighters' Benefit Law § 5 (1) (p), which covers participation in a "supervised physical fitness class, group session or program for the purpose of promoting or maintaining the performance of their duties as firefighters [and EMTs], as well as necessary travel to and necessary travel from such activity." The court said the record demonstrated that the District, at the very least, strongly encouraged EMTs to receive the swine flu vaccination and made arrangements for them to receive the vaccine at no cost.

See In the Matter of Pettit v. Scipio Volunteer Fire Dist., 2012 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 3858 (May 17, 2012).

See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, § 27.03.

Source: Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, the nation's leading authority on workers' compensation law.

Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law

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