Larson Spotlight on Recent Cases: Street-Risk Doctrine Applied to Verizon Worker Assaulted by Random Stranger

Larson Spotlight on Recent Cases: Street-Risk Doctrine Applied to Verizon Worker Assaulted by Random Stranger

Larson's Spotlight on Street Risk Doctrine, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Slip and Fall, and Amputation. 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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RI: High Court Reverses Denial of Injury Claim By Verizon Worker Assaulted by Random Stranger

Quoting Larson's Workers' Compensation Law multiple times, the Supreme Court of Rhode Island recently quashed a decree by the state's Workers' Compensation Court Appellate Division that had affirmed a denial of workers' compensation benefits to a Verizon service technician assaulted by a random stranger while the employee worked on outdoor cable lines in Providence.  Viewing favorably the discussion found in Larson, the court reasoned that the employee's injuries were compensable under the "street-peril" (sometimes referred to as "street risk") doctrine. The court also said the doctrine was not limited to claims involving automobile accidents, that by requiring the employee to travel and park on public streets, Verizon exposed its employee to various street perils, including assaults by random strangers. For additional discussion, see

See Ellis v. Verizon New England, Inc., 2013 R.I. LEXIS 57 (Apr. 12, 2013) [2013 R.I. LEXIS 57 (Apr. 12, 2013)].

See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, §§ 3.01, 6.01 [3.01, 6.01].

IL: Appellate Court Adopts "Objective, Reasonable-Person" Standard for PTSD Claims, Discards Subjective Standard

An Illinois appellate court recently reversed a trial court's decision that had upheld an order of the state's Workers' Compensation Commission denying the post-traumatic stress disorder claim filed by a police officer who had to stare down the barrel of an assailant's gun for some 10 to 15 seconds before the officer realized that the gun was not real.  An arbitrator found that the officer was involved in an accident and that the injuries arose out of and in the course of the employment.  The Commission, in a 2-1 decision, reversed, holding that compensation in these sorts of cases was limited to the narrow group of cases in which an employee suffered "a sudden, severe emotional shock" that resulted in "an immediately apparent psychic injury" and which had been precipitated by an "uncommon event of significantly greater proportion or dimension than that to which the employee would otherwise be subjected in the normal course of employment."  The appellate court held the Commission had applied too narrow a rule.  Under such an analysis it would be virtually impossible for police officers or others involved in dangerous occupations to qualify for a mental-mental claim.  The court indicated that whether a worker has suffered the type of emotional shock sufficient to warrant recovery should be determined by an objective, reasonable-person standard, rather than a subjective standard that takes into account the claimant's occupation and training.

See Diaz v. Illinois Workers' Comp. Comm'n, 2013 Ill. App. LEXIS 236 (Apr. 16, 2013) [2013 Ill. App. LEXIS 236 (Apr. 16, 2013)].

See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, § 56.04 [56.04]

VA: In Spite of Close Proximity of Parking Lot to Employer's Premises, No Recover for Slip and Fall on Ice

An employee's injury, when she slipped and fell on a patch of ice in a parking lot near her employer's premises was not compensable, held a Virginia appellate court recently, where the employee was free to park where she pleased-whether in the lot where she was injured, a different nearby parking lot, or on the street-where the employee had no reserved parking space, and where members of the public also used the parking lot in question. The court added that the parking lot did not constitute "'in practical effect a part of the employer's premises, nor did the employer exercise any "control or authority" over where appellant parked. Claimant's injury did not, therefore, occur in the course of her employment.

See Lane v. Emergency Veterinary Clinic, 2013 Va. App. LEXIS 127 (Apr. 23, 2013) [2013 Va. App. LEXIS 127 (Apr. 23, 2013)].

See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, § 13.04 [13.04].

AZ: Employee's Congenital Syndactyly Did Not Quality As "Amputation;" No Apportionment of Disability to Second Injury Fund

As is the case with a number of other states, Arizona has a statute [Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 23-1065(C)(3)(e)] that authorizes apportionment for workers' compensation claims involving employees with preexisting impairments.  In appropriate situations, Arizona apportions some of the cost of the worker's disability to a Special Fund Division (a form of second injury fund) to promote the hiring of disabled or handicapped workers. Among the conditions that can trigger the apportionment is preexisting impairment caused by an "amputated foot, leg, arm or hand."   An Arizona appellate court recently held that an injured employee's syndactyly-a "congenital anomaly of the hand or foot, marked by persistence of the webbing between distal phalanges of adjacent digits, so that they are more or less completely attached"-was not included as an "amputation" within the Arizona statute.  Accordingly, there could be no apportionment of part of the disability award to the Special Fund Division.

See Special Fund v. Industrial Comm'n, 2013 Ariz. App. LEXIS 77 (Apr. 18, 2013) [2013 Ariz. App. LEXIS 77 (Apr. 18, 2013)].

See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, § 91.02 [91.02].

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

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