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A Missouri appellate court affirmed an award of permanent total disability benefits against the state’s Second Injury Fund where claimant’s lunchroom chair collapsed as he sat eating lunch. The claimant injured his low back and developed intense pain in his low back and leg. The Second Injury Fund contended (a) that the legislature’s 2005 amendments had eliminated recovery under the “personal comfort” doctrine and (b) that workers’ compensation benefits were not available for injuries and diseases caused by normal activities of everyday life that coincidentally occurred at work. The appellate court indicated the personal comfort doctrine had not been abrogated by the 2005 amendments. The court added that if the legislature wanted to abrogate the personal comfort doctrine and restrict coverage to those injuries occurring only while an employee was performing specific work duties and not while performing incidental duties such as attending to his or her personal comfort at work, it could have done so explicitly. It did not. The court added that while sitting in a chair was an activity common in normal non-employment life, whether or not the chair might collapse was dependent upon the particular chair. Claimant here did not suffer a general injury from the act of sitting itself, which could have occurred anywhere he sat down, but a particular injury because the chair he sat on collapsed. He was not exposed to that chair anywhere else but at work.
Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is the co-author of Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law (LexisNexis).
LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance. Bracketed citations link to lexis.com.
See Wright v. Treasurer of Mo. Second Injury Fund, 2015 Mo. App. LEXIS 1159 (Nov. 10, 2015) [2015 Mo. App. LEXIS 1159 (Nov. 10, 2015)]
See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 21.02 [21.02]
Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law.
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