NEWS / Legal News - August 2018

Supreme Court issues decision on increased risk relating to falls on stairs

Falls on Stairs

The employee was at work while walking down stairs.  She was carrying a plant in one hand and her purse in the other when she fell and was injured. The plant was the employee's personal property. There were no defects in the stairs.  
The employer and insurer denied liability for the employee's injury claiming that the employee's work activities placed her at no increased risk of injury. Compensation Judge Sandra Grove agreed and denied the employee's claims. 

The WCCA reversed the Compensation Judge's decision and found that just being on stairs at work is an increased risk.

The Supreme Court affirmed the WCCA, but stopped short of saying that all falls on stairs were compensable.  Instead, the Court found that the increased risk in this case was that the employee could not hold onto the handrails because her hands were full. The fact that the employee's inability to use the handrails had nothing to do with her work duties was found to be irrelevant. 

This decision does little to provide clear guidance regarding questions over the compensability of falls on stairs. At this point, however, it seems that unless the cause of the fall is truly unexplained, the court will likely find it to be compensable. 

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