Worker Injured during Lunch Break When Chair Collapsed Underneath Him Can Still be Considered Hurt on Job and be Entitled to Workers Compensation Benefits

The case of Wright v. Missouri Treasurer (Second Injury Fund) was decided by the Eastern District Missouri Court of Appeals on November 10, 2015.

The worker in this case, David Wright, was working for Roto Rooter and was sitting in a chair in the company lunchroom eating lunch when the chair he was sitting on collapsed underneath him, whereupon he fell down onto the floor and injured his lower back and right leg. In order to qualify for workman’s compensation benefits und Missouri Workers Compensation Law ever since the pro-employer 2005 amendments to that law, an employee has to prove he was injured within the scope and course of his employment. To do so he must show that 1.) his accident was the main (“prevailing”) factor in causing his injury and 2.) his injury did not occur due to a risk or hazard unrelated to his employment that he would have been equally exposed to off the job in his non-employment life. The injured worker, not his employer, has the legal burden to prove all this.

The company argued that Wright could just as easily have fallen in a chair while eating lunch in his non-work life, such as at home or in a restaurant. The court of appeals ruled that the law must focus not so much on the specific job the injured worker was doing at the time of the accident that injured him, but on the source of the risk that injured him and whether the risk of a hazard that caused the accident that injured him was a risk which he as an employee was equally exposed to in his non-work life. The court said that just because Mr. Wright was eating lunch at an unpaid lunch break in the company cafeteria does not mean that his fall when the chair he was sitting on during lunch collapsed underneath him to injure him was not a risk which he was exposed to at the workplace. “His injury occurred because he was at work, not simply while he was work,” the appeals court said.

If the injured employee can show that the injury-causing act that led to the accident that hurt him on the job would not have occurred if he had not been at work, then he should be able to collect workers compensation benefits, including medical treatment, temporary wage loss substitute pay benefits and permanent disability money benefits. The Missouri legislature in its major 2005 revisions to the Law tried its best to limit the circumstances under which an employee can become entitled to workmens compensation benefits. Since the injured worker has to prove both that he was hurt primarily due to the job and due to a risk at the job that he would not have been subjected to off the job, being able to prove this is absolutely essential to the injured worker getting any workers compensation benefits at all. That is why you need a good attorney to fight to prove what you need to prove to get your workmens comp benefits.

Trying to fight your employer and their workers comp insurance to get them to give you medical treatment for your injuries, temporary off-work wage loss benefits, and permanent disability benefit money would be next to impossible without getting a hard-fighting attorney to fight for you against the company, its insurance claim adjuster and the lawyers it will hire to fight you tooth and nail to deny you benefits. This is true of many other types of workers compensation claims as well. You have to fight them in the legal system or you get no treatment benefits and no money benefits.

Employers and their workmen’s comp insurance will deny you all benefits and make you fight for any kind of treatment, lost wages and permanent disability from your accident unless you go out and hire a lawyer to fight for you. You might win or you might lose in the end, but without a hard-fighting attorney you will get no decent benefits for sure. Without a good lawyer fighting at his side to get him the benefits his employer and their workmens compensation insurance denied him, David Wright would have gotten no benefits at all for his on the job injury: no medical treatment, no off-work wage loss benefits, and no permanent disability benefits.

Another reason a worker injured on the job in a work accident really should consult and hire a lawyer is that even when the company finally sends you out to a doctor for treatment, the doctors they choose for treatment will do everything they can to deny or minimize the worker’s injuries. They will go out of their way to blame any work injuries on pre-existing degeneration (like arthritis) or previous injuries they can find. A good, experienced hard-fighting workers compensation attorney can gather up all the medical treatment records and send the injured worker out for an evaluation by medical experts who will work in the employee’s interests and enable the injured worker to prove his case to a workmen’s compensation judge.

St. Louis Workers Compensation Center can defend your rights to workers compensation benefits and demand treatment and money benefits. They can help you fight to enforce your legal rights to benefits. They can fight to keep the company from cancelling or underpaying your benefits. Please call Tom Hyatt for advice and assistance on any work-related injury suffered on the job in either St. Charles County, Warren County, Lincoln County, Jefferson County, St. Louis City, St. Louis County, Franklin County, or any other counties in eastern Missouri within 125 miles of the greater St. Louis metropolitan area.Our consultations are completely free of charge. Tom Hyatt will talk to you about your case right away. He will fight as hard he can to enforce all of your rights to Missouri workers compensation benefits. Our attorney’s fee would be a modest percentage of the Missouri workers’ comp disability benefits we get for you. Please call now for a free consultation. (See Contact Us).

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