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Workers' Compensation

South Carolina: Supreme Court Moves Close to Positional Risk Standard in Hallway Fall Case

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Supreme Court of South Carolina, moving ever so close to a positional risk standard, reversed a decision by the state’s Court of Appeals, holding that an office employee could recover benefits for injuries sustained when she fell as she walked down an unobstructed carpeted hallway. The court of appeals had held that although the fall was not unexplained or idiopathic, the carpet was not a hazard or special condition peculiar to her employment that contributed to or caused the employee’s injuries and that her fall could have occurred anywhere. The high court noted that it was undisputed that the employee’s injuries occurred within the course of her employment; the issue was whether they arose out of that employment. “Alleging an accident is not unique to employment, without more, is not a viable basis for denying compensation,” held the state Supreme Court. Quoting Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the Court indicated the employee need not establish that the fall was “the fault” of the employer in creating a danger or hazard. The Court went further, however, stating that “[t]he circumstances of her employment required her to walk down the hallway to perform her responsibilities and in the course of those duties she sustained an injury. We hold these facts establish a causal connection between her employment and her injuries—the law requires nothing more.” That’s indeed very close to a positional risk standard.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is a leading commentator and expert on the law of workers’ compensation.

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance. Bracketed citations link to lexis.com.

See Nicholson v. S.C. Dept’ of Social Servs., 2015 S.C. LEXIS 3 (Jan. 14, 2015) [2015 S.C. LEXIS 3 (Jan. 14, 2015)]

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, §§ 3.05, 7.04 [3.05, 7.04]

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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