FL: Workers’ Comp Claim For Tripping Over Dog Heads To Supreme Court

02 Jul, 2019 Liz Carey


Tallahassee, FL (WorkersCompensation.com) – The attorney for a woman who filed a workers’ compensation claim for tripping over her dog while working from home has filed paperwork to send the case to the Fla. Supreme Court.

In April, the Florida 1st District Court of Appeals ruled against Tammitha Valcourt-Williams who claimed she was entitled to workers’ compensation after she tripped over her dog while reaching for a cup of coffee in 2016.

Valcourt-Williams said that she suffered knee, hip and shoulder injuries in the fall. She worked remotely as a claims adjuster for Sedgwick CMS, a third-party administrator. Sedgwick CMS denied the claim, reasoning that injuries did not arise out of her employment.

As previously reported in WorkersCompensation.com, Valcourt-Williams’ attorney appealed the decision and took the case to the Judge of Compensation Claims, claiming that during working hours her kitchen was her breakroom and her house was her workplace and that injuries in the workplace are covered by workers’ compensation laws.

Judge W. James Condry found in favor of Valcourt-Williams. Sedgwick appealed, and the appeals court found in favor of Sedgwick, saying “Here, the relevant risk was that the claimant might trip over her dog while reaching for a coffee cup in her kitchen. That risk exists whether the claimant is at home working or whether she is at home not working. It existed before Valcourt-Williams took her job, and it will exist after her employment ends (so long as she maintains a home with a dog). Because the risk did not arise out of the employment, we must reverse,” according to court documents.

Judge Ross Bilbrey, in a dissenting opinion, said the decision overturned decades-worth of workers’ compensation case law.

“The fact that Valcourt-William’s home was also her workplace and her kitchen doubled as her workday breakroom should do nothing to alter our consideration of her claim,” Bilbrey said in court documents.

According to the Fla. Supreme Court’s website, Valcourt-Williams attorneys, Bill McCabe, Longwood, and Glen D. Wieland, Orlando, filed a notice with the Supreme Court that is generally a first step in asking the Supreme Court to take up the issue, according to the NWFdailynews.com


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    • Liz Carey

      Liz Carey has worked as a writer, reporter and editor for nearly 25 years. First, as an investigative reporter for Gannett and later as the Vice President of a local Chamber of Commerce, Carey has covered everything from local government to the statehouse to the aerospace industry. Her work as a reporter, as well as her work in the community, have led her to become an advocate for the working poor, as well as the small business owner.

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