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Court: Injury at workplace doesn't always qualify for comp benefits

A recent judicial outcome in a workers' compensation case in Arizona has many critics across the country questioning the court's ruling. The case has been noted for undercutting the time-honored expectation that an employee injured in the scope of employment at the worksite and during normal work hours will be awarded workers' comp benefits.

That wasn't the case with a Reilly Auto Parts delivery driver, who was found bleeding and unconscious at the workplace in 2009 and spent three weeks in the hospital.

Following the accident, the driver suffered from a number of medical problems, including memory loss, tremors, low energy, hearing loss and difficulty focusing.

He duly filed for compensation, but was denied by a state hearing officer.

That outcome was repeated recently when a three-member panel of judges for the state's Court of Appeals upheld the examiner's ruling.

The court readily conceded the driver's claim that his injury occurred at work and during normal business hours.

There needed to be more, though, held the court, with the panel stating that proof needed to be established of "some risk inherent in the employment or incidental to the discharge of the duties."

In other words, the court required some proof of linkage between the injury and the job and that the former owed to the latter.

In the driver's case, he fell and fainted, with no explanation offered as to why. The court ruled that this fell short of establishing the required link and thus denied the driver's claim.

Source: Arizona Business Gazette, "Injury on job doesn't mean automatic workers' comp" Dec. 1, 2011

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