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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Turning Over in Bed Not Compensable Event

A NJ Workers' Compensation Court has held that turning over in bed to shut off an alarm clock, an act that aggravating a pre-existing back injury, was not a compensable workers' compensation event. The Court held that the subsequent event, turning in bed, was an intervening, superseding event unrelated to the original work related accident.

The Court enunciated that in workers' compensation claims the injured worker has the burden of proof to establish the causal relationship of the subsequent event to the prior event. This "bridging" of causal relationship is well defined in the law of torts under the so-called "but for rule." The second event, turning in bed, was considered an unrelated intentional act and not compensable.

Judge Philip A. Tornetta stated in his opinion, "... There was not a scintilla of evidence to refute the fact that petitioner’s turning in bed was nothing more than an innocent, unintentional act , which no doctor had restricted him from doing."

Ippolitto v County of Bergen, et al., NJ Division of Workers' Compensation, CP 2007-25283, 2010-17376, Decided August 1, 2011.