Clerk’s Icy Slip doesn’t Lead to TBI Finding

31 Mar, 2024 Frank Ferreri


Minneapolis, MN ( -- Even though spring is in the air across the country, weather-related safety should be top of mind no matter the season.

Although the worker in Zabel v. Gustavus Adolphus College, No. WC23-6533 (Minn. W.C.C. App. 03/27/24) was unable to connect her falling on ice to dizziness she experienced, keeping some ice melt and sidewalk salt on hand can keep employees on their feet during frigid months.

A post office clerk for a college suffered a brain/concussion injury after slipping and falling on ice while working. The clerk returned to work a few days after the incident and experienced dizziness while working. The clerk attributed the dizziness to moving her head back and forth while sorting mail along with harsh lighting and noise in the room.

Do you need compliance info from Minnesota or any other state? Turn to Simply Research

The clerk received treatment for her persistent symptoms, and the treating physician reported that the employee experienced a "zinger" that caused her dizziness. According to this doctor, the fall at work and the intensifying symptoms were substantial contributing factors to the clerk's persistent postconcussive syndrome.

The clerk sought workers' compensation benefits. An independent psychological examination concluded that the clerk did not experience traumatic brain injury and assessed the clerk's description of the accident as "implausible."

The compensation judge found that the clerk did not suffer a work injury and denied her request for benefits.

The clerk appealed.

When a compensation judge makes a decision, findings of fact should not be disturbed by the Workers' Compensation Court of Appeals "unless they are clearly erroneous ... or not reasonably supported by the evidence as a whole."

In this case, the court held that the judge had substantial evidence to decide that the clerk did not suffer a TBI. In particular, the court pointed out that a coworker testified that she saw the clerk appear dizzy after slipping on ice and intervened to assist the clerk but did not see her strike her head.

"There is no medical testimony ... to suggest that a TBI can result in the absence of physical trauma," the court wrote. "The compensation judge determined that the employee did not strike her head and therefore she did not suffer a compensable work injury."

The court affirmed the judge's decision.

  • arising out of arizona california case management case management focus claims cms compensability compliance courts covid do you know the rule exclusive remedy florida FMLA fraud glossary check health care Healthcare iowa leadership medical medicare minnesota NCCI new jersey new york ohio opioids osha pennsylvania Safety state info texas violence virginia WDYT west virginia what do you think women's history month workers' comp 101 workers' recovery workers' compensation contact information Workplace Safety Workplace Violence

  • Read Also

    About The Author

    • Frank Ferreri

      Frank Ferreri, M.A., J.D. covers workers' compensation legal issues. He has published books, articles, and other material on multiple areas of employment, insurance, and disability law. Frank received his master's degree from the University of South Florida and juris doctor from the University of Florida Levin College of Law.

    Read More

    Request a Demo

    To request a free demo of one of our products, please fill in this form. Our sales team will get back to you shortly.