The Supreme Court of Wyoming held the state’s Office of Administrative Hearings committed error when it affirmed the denial of benefits to a worker who sustained a head injury while working as a well operator. The worker, who typically worked alone, had earlier testified that he was started by a flash fire at the employer’s premises, which caused him to fall and strike his head. The Workers’ Compensation Division determined, and the OAH affirmed, that the injury did not arise out of and in the course of the employment because the building, in which the worker worked, showed no signs of a recent fire. The Supreme Court acknowledged that the employer may have countered the worker’s version of how the injury occurred, but it had produced no evidence to counter the fact that the worker had indeed sustained an injury and that he did so while on the employer’s premises. Utilizing the so-called “premises rule,” under which an employee who makes a showing that an injury occurred on the work premises enjoys a rebuttable presumption of compensability [see Archuleta v. Carbon Cty. Sch. Dist. No. 1, 787 P.2d 91, 94 (Wyo. 1990)], the Supreme Court said the Division could not rely solely on speculation that something other than work, such as something idiopathic, caused the worker to fall. Absent evidence to rebut the presumption, an award of compensation was in order.
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.
See In re Claim of Williams, 2018 WY 10, 2018 Wyo. LEXIS 10 (Feb. 5, 2018)
See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 130.06.
Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law