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Workers' Compensation

Utah: Trucker's Leap From Truck to Avoid Potential Fire and Explosion Was Sufficiently Unusual to Support Aggravation Claim

In a case with a rather bizarre fact pattern, a Utah appellate court affirmed a state Commission's decision awarding workers' compensation benefits to a trucker who suffered an aggravated injury to her knee when she leaped from the cabin of her truck because she feared the truck was about to explode. Applying the state's so-called Allen standard [see Allen v. Industrial Comm'n, 729 P.2d 15 (Utah 1986), pursuant to which an employee with a preexisting condition must show that her employment contributed something substantial to increase the risk already faced in everyday life because of her preexisting condition, the court agreed with the Commission, which specifically found that the jumped away from the truck after the trucker noticed an unusual odor, "like something burning," and also heard an "explosion" that appeared to come from the front passenger's side of the vehicle. The appellate court indicated the exigent circumstances surrounding the jump caused the truck driver to hurry and prevented her from taking the precautionary measures not to land awkwardly. The appellate court concluded, therefore, that the driver's jump constituted an unusual exertion that readily satisfied the heightened legal cause standard required for individuals with preexisting conditions.

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 JBS USA v. Labor Comm'n, 2020 UT App 86, 2020 Utah App. LEXIS 89 (June 4, 2020)

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 43.03.

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

For a more detailed discussion of the case, see

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