Workers Compensation Injuries from a Fall


Claimant fell as she was turning down a store aisle. She fractured her leg in the fall and subsequently filed a claim for workers' compensation. The administrative law judge ruled that Johnson's injury arose out of the course of employment. On appeal the Superior Court of Houston County reversed and the Court of Appeals then received the case and they reversed. Johnson v. Publix Supermarkets, 256 Ga. App. 540, 568 S.E.2d 827 (2002).

This case seems to reverse the issue of idiopathic fall and quotes many cases which state as follows: "Physical contact with some object is no necessary in order for the employee to sustain an accident within the meaning of the workers' compensation law. See Orkin Exterminating Company v. Wright, 92 Ga. App. 224, 88 S.E.2d 205 (1955).

The Court goes on to say that the Hartford accident for the Hartford Accident & Indemnity Co. v. Cox, 61 Ga. App. 420, 6 S.E.2d 189 (1939) the Court held that to be compensable injuries do not have to arise from something peculiar to the employment.

Instead where the duties of an employee entail his presence at the place and a time, the claimant for an injury there occurring is not to be barred because it results from a risk common to all others, a concept that came to be known as a "positional risk doctrine". While subject cases have cited Borden Foods v. Dorsey, 112 Ga. App. 838, 146 S.E.2d 532 (1965), the proposition that there must be a causal connection between the employment and the injury (such as the specific incurrence) its requirement of a "peculiar danger", is no longer good law and was overruled by National Fire Insurance Company v. Edwards, 152 Ga. App. 566, 263 S.E.2d 455 (1979).

Slip and Fall/Rubber Mat

Plaintiff slipped and fell at a store and alleged that the store breeched a duty it owed her as an invitee when she tripped and fell on a mat. The trial court granted a summary judgment on behalf of the store. Where the Supreme Court has held 1) as a general proposition, issues of negligence, contributory negligence and lack of ordinary care for one's own safety are not susceptible of summary adjudication but should instead be resolved by trial in the ordinary matter and 2) trial court can conclude as a matter of law that the facts do or do not show negligence on the part of the defendant or the plaintiff only where the evidence is plain, palpable and undisputable. Issues such as how closely a particular retailer should monitor its premises and approaches, what retailers should know about the property's condition at any given time, how vigilant patrons must be for their own safety in various settings and where customers should be held responsible or not responsible for looking or not looking are all questions that, in general must be answered by juries as a matter of fact rather than by judges as a matter of law. See Robinson v. Kroger Company, 268 Ga. 735, 493 S.E.2d 403 (1997) See Also American Multi-Cinema, Inc v. Brown, 285 Ga. 442, 679 S.E.2d 25 (2009) and Mairs v. Whole Foods Market Group, Inc, 303 Ga. App. 638,694 S.E.2d 129 (2010).

In Georgia, a proprietor has a statutory duty to exercise ordinary care to keep its premises safe which, includes inspecting the premises to discover possible dangerous conditions of which the proprietor does not have actual knowledge and taking reasonable precautions to protect invitees from dangers foreseeable from the arrangement or use of the premises. The plaintiff or invitee must prove 1) that the defendant had actual or constructive knowledge of the hazard and 2) that the plaintiff lacked knowledge of the hazardous despite the exercise of ordinary care due to actions or conditions within the control of the owner/occupier.

In the case of floor mats which are subject to folding, bunching, rolling and shifting can constitute hazards for which landowners may be liable. In this case, the owner inspected the premises at 7:00 a.m. with the accident occurring at 5:00 a.m. The courts decided to leave it to a jury instead of summary judgment for adjudication because the owner may have lacked a reasonable inspection procedure. A plaintiff need not show how long a hazard was present unless the owner has first demonstrated its inspection procedures. The evidence must establish an adherence to customary inspection procedures on the day in question and not simply that such procedures exist. All of this is cited in Benefield v. Tominich, 2011 WL 982973. (CASE NO. A10A2242) (DEC'D 3/22/11).

Learn more about Slip and Fall accidents.

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