new york 31503 640

N.Y. Presumption Leads Court to Find Fall Happened in Course of Employment

10 May, 2024 Frank Ferreri

new york 31503 640

If a worker falls on the job, but no one saw what happened, what happens?

The court in Bosque v. Prime Support Inc., 2024 WL 1774127 (N.Y. App. Div. 04/25/24) addressed the question, applying a presumption to find that the fall happened in the course of employment.

A home health care aide fell in a hallway after cleaning a patient's bedroom. The patient's mother found the aide face on the floor, bleeding and unresponsive. The aide was diagnosed with a subarachnoid hemorrhage, central cord syndrome, and mild traumatic brain injury.

The aide underwent surgery and filed a claim for workers' compensation benefits. The Workers' Compensation Law Judge found that the aide sustained a work-related injury to her head, neck, and right arm and awarded benefits. The carrier sought administrative review, claiming that the injuries were not due to a risk incident to her employment. The Workers' Compensation Board disagreed, finding that the aide sustained compensable work-related injuries.

The carrier appealed to court.

New York law provides a presumption of compensability for accidents that occur during the course of employment that are unwitnessed or unexplained. Carriers may rebut this presumption with "substantial evidence to the contrary."

In this case, the carrier didn't have such evidence.

"Although the carrier argues that the cause of claimant's fall was idiopathic in nature, this assertion is entirely speculative, as the carrier produced no medical evidence 'to explain the etiology' of claimant's fall and apparent loss of consciousness," the court explained.

As a result, the court upheld the board's decision in the aide's favor.

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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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