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

31 Mar, 2024 Frank Ferreri

                               

Minneapolis, MN (WorkersCompensation.com) -- 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.

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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.


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    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.

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