JEFFERSON COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS V. STEPHENS
WORKERS COMPENSATION: Burden of Proof and unexplained fall
DATE RENDERED: 12/21/2006:
The claimant fell at work while walking. She couldnot explain why she fell, she just fell. The employer had evidence that this was a presyncope episode, or a blacking out spell caused by high sodium in her blood. The employer argued that it was an idiopathic fall, or one caused by a fainting spell from an unknown medical condition and therefore not work related. The ALJ decided that it was a work related injury, holding that if a fall happens at work, it is presumed that the fall is work related. The burden then shifts to the employer to show a non-work related factor caused the injury. The employer complained that this is an impermissible shifting of the burden of proof to the defendant, but the Supreme Court affirmed, relying on Workman v. Wesley Minor Nursing Home.