Workers’ Comp Fall Case Goes To Supreme Court
A woman who argues she is entitled to workers’ compensation insurance benefits after tripping over her dog while working at home has taken the issue to the Florida Supreme Court.
The 1st District Court of Appeal in April ruled against telecommuter Tammitha Valcourt-Williams, who was injured after she tripped over her dog while reaching for a coffee cup in her kitchen during work hours.
Valcourt-Williams’ attorney last week filed a notice that is a first step in asking the Supreme Court to take up the issue, according to documents posted Tuesday on the Supreme Court website.
The accident happened in 2016 as Valcourt-Williams worked remotely as a claims adjuster for Sedgwick CMS, a company that manages workers’ compensation insurance claims, according to the appeals-court ruling.
She suffered knee, hip and shoulder injuries in the fall and filed a workers’ compensation claim. Sedgwick denied the claim, contending the injuries did not arise out of her employment, but Judge of Compensation Claims W. James Condry disagreed.
The appeals court, however, overturned Condry’s ruling. The appellate court’s majority opinion said 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.” But in a dissent, Judge Ross Bilbrey wrote that the majority reversed “decades of precedent” under workers’ compensation law.
“The fact that Valcourt-Williams’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 wrote. As is common, the notice filed in the Supreme Court does not detail arguments Valcourt-Williams’ attorney will make.
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