Thursday, November 27, 2014

Injury at work in Virginia: is falling on a staircase covered?

A common injury at the work-place is falling on a staircase or on steps. Will workers' compensation insurance cover this injury in Virginia?

Virginia follows the "actual risk" rule. This means a risk in the work environment must cause the injury. So, as a practical matter falling on a staircase or steps may fail as a claim in Virginia if there is nothing wrong with the steps. Some things that could make this claim compensable are as follows:

1.  If the staircase is poorly lit or if a light is out this can be a "risk" of the employment.

2.  If the steps are slippery or wet, this can be a "risk" of the employment.

3.  If the worker was bumped by a fellow employee on the steps this could be a "risk" of the employment.

4.  If the steps are unusual in any way regarding width or length, this could be a risk of the employment.

5.  If the employee was encumbered by packages or other items while on the steps this could be a "risk" of the employment.

6.  If an office emergency caused the employee to rush down or up the stairs, this could be a "risk" of the employment.

In summary, even though the insurance company denies coverage for the staircase fall, the employee should check with an experienced Virginia workers' compensation attorney to find out if there is coverage under one of the exceptions listed above. The employee in a staircase accident is often asked to give a recorded statement to the claims adjuster. This is dangerous. Often, the injured employee will make the following statement: "I fell and it happened so fast so I don't know what happened." This could be fatal to a claim. Call an attorney as soon as possible.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: contact Jerry Lutkenhaus at 804-358-4766 or 800-256-8862 (toll-free) or check our website at Virginia Workers' Compensation Lawyer.