The employee in this case was injured while walking down a hallway. She fell when she tripped over something, but she’s not sure what made her fall. Is this a workers’ comp injury?
Mary Sue Rodriguez, a nursing instructor, fractured her wrist when she fell while at work on Aug. 2, 2016. She lectures and teaches at two medical facilities both in the classroom and where patient care is being provided.
On the day of the injury, she was at Ohio Valley Medical Center teaching a class. She was walking down a hallway with some students from a classroom toward the pediatric department when she slipped and landed on her arm. She was on duty at the time. Rodriguez says she couldn’t find what she tripped on, but says she definitely tripped on something. The floor was flat, and her shoe laces were tied.
Rodriguez says she didn’t see any wet spots on the floor, and she was wearing her duty shoes which are supposed to help prevent slips.
A claims administrator rejected her request for workers’ comp benefits. The West Virginia Office of Judges reversed the decision. It found Rodriguez was acting within the scope of her employment when she was injured. It also said the fact that the injury occurred at a different facility than her employer, Reynolds Memorial Hospital, didn’t remove Rodriguez from the scope of employment as part of her job was to teach at Ohio Valley Medical Center, too.
The decision was also affirmed by the West Virginia Workers’ Compensation Board of Review. Her employer appealed to a state court.
The hospital alleged the fall was the result of clumsiness. But the state appeals court found that allegation wasn’t sufficiently supported by the evidence. Rodriguez was adamant clumsiness wasn’t a factor in her fall.
The appeals court said Rodriguez should received workers’ comp benefits.
(Reynolds Memorial Hospital v. Mary Sue Rodriguez, West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, No. 17-1031, 3/21/18)