Brick Wall not an “Actual Risk” for Security Guard’s Workplace Fall

In a recent case in which a security guard fell backwards when she sat on a low brick wall at her workplace, the Court of Appeals of Virginia found that she cannot show her accident was causally related to any actual risk at work. The Virginia Court of Appeals reversed a workers’ comp Award for the claimant’s neck injury.

The appeals court did this even though the employer did not dispute that an accident occurred, or that the employee’s injury was sustained in the course of her employment. The employer simply argued that the accident — and resulting injury — did not arise out of the claimant’s employment.

The Virginia Court of Appeals found that the injured worker failed to prove a causal connection between her work and her fall.

She could not explain why she fell.  She did not claim the fall was due to some inherent danger or flaw in the brick wall on which she sat.  Rather, the injured worker’s only suggested explanation for her fall was the shortness of her legs.  The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission (VWC) concluded the security guard had identified a cause for her imbalance and her fall, and her injuries arose out of her employment.

However, the Virginia Appeals Court determined there was no persuasive evidence as to the cause of the security guard’s fall to link it sufficiently to a condition of her employment.

The VWC erred in concluding the claimant established her injuries were causally related to the compensable workplace injury because the evidence failed to establish the wall posed a particular risk to the claimant and not one to which the general public was exposed.

Virginia Court of Appeals concluded the evidence in this case simply could not support the factual inferences drawn by the VWC. Because the Court of Appeals found that the Comp Commission was mistaken when it concluded the accident arose out of the risk of employment, the award of benefits was reversed.

If you or someone you know has been injured at work and there are questions as to what laws apply, email or call Abrams Landau, Ltd. at once (703-796-9555).