As our Carolina workers compensation attorneys noted in an earlier post to our North Carolina Workers Compensation Lawyers blog, more than 270,000 incidences of slip-and-fall workplace accidents were reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2009. On average, workers injured in a slip-and/or-fall accident spent a week to two weeks laid-up and off the job – adding the stress of lost wages to suffering physical injury.
Because of the frequency and the degree of injury sustained from a slip-and-fall workplace accident, the lawyers at Lee & Smith have been closely monitoring a Wake County slip-and-fall workers compensation case as it worked its way up to the North Carolina Court of Appeals. We are pleased to report that in the case of Hedges v. Wake County Public Schools, the appellate court has found for the plaintiff.
The injured worker – who tripped and fell as she entered a workroom with an armload of payroll materials meant to be copied – testified that nothing caused her to fall. But with her arms full, she was unable to correct for the misstep and landed badly, causing a rotator cuff tear in the process, Risk & Insurance reports.
Because there was no impediment to her path to cause her to fall, the school argued that her injury did not meet the standard for a worker’s compensation claim. Nor then did they feel the worker was entitled to attorney’s fees.
The Court found that despite there being no clear reason for the fall, the worker was on school property, on the clock and performing a work-related task when the North Carolina slip-and-fall accident occurred. They Court further decided the worker was also entitled to attorney’s fees because the school’s argument – that since the worker didn’t know why she fell, her injury must not be work related – was without merit.
SFM Mutual Insurance Company offers a few words worth sharing for employers aiming to create a safer environment for North Carolina workers now that winter weather has arrived.
~ High heels and snow-laden or icy parking lots are a potentially hazardous combination. Boots with slip-resistant soles, (or at least a pair of flat shoes worn when traversing the parking lot), are a much safer way to get from the car to the office.
~ When walking on snow or ice and when you first enter a building – walk like a duck. Walk slowly and thoughtfully. Take short, flat, steps and be cautious when changing direction.
~ Once you enter a building, clear your shoes of puddle-causing debris. Employers should provide mats or a carpet remnant at or near entryways for this purpose.
The Spartanburg workers’ compensation lawyers with Lee & Smith can help. We hope that if you are involved in a serious North Carolina work accident, you will call us at 1-800-887-1965 or email our law offices to schedule a free consultation to discuss your rights.