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New Mexico: Unexplained Fall in Level, Unobstructed Hallway is Presumed to be Compensable

November 08, 2018 (1 min read)

Reversing a decision by a state Workers’ Compensation Judge (WCJ) that had ruled an employee’s injury, in the form of a fractured humerus, was not compensable because it did not arise out of and in the course of the employment, the Supreme Court of New Mexico ruled the employee’s fall was “unexplained,” and as such there arose a presumption that the on premises injury did indeed arise out of and in the course of the employment. Since the employer had offered no evidence to rebut the presumption, the Court said the WCJ erred in failing to award benefits. As part of his job, the worker was called upon to walk long distances in the employer’s building, which was more than a mile long. The worker could not explain the fall, other than he had tripped. There were no obstructions; the hallway was level and dry. Videotape confirmed that there was no explanation, other than the worker tripped over his own feet. Quoting Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the Court indicated the “commonest example" of a neutral risk for which the cause of the harm is "simply unknown" is the unexplained fall.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is co-author of Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law (LexisNexis).

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance.

See Griego v. LaSalle, 2018 N.M. App. LEXIS 62 (Oct. 16, 2018)

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 7.04.

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