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Claims adjuster's fall while leaving office was compensable: Court

Stairway fall

The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that a worker was “acting in the course and scope of his employment” when he fell while leaving work, and therefore can receive workers compensation benefits.

Rodney Stanley Brown worked at Oklahoma City-based Claims Management Resources as a claims adjuster. On March 25, 2014 Mr. Brown fell from an interior stairwell while leaving and injured his left knee. Mr. Brown was clocked out and leaving the office when the injury took place, according to court documents.

Claims Management Resources argued that Mr. Brown’s injury was not compensable because he was not performing work duties when the injury occurred and because he was clocked out at the time of his fall. Mr. Brown argued that his fall was work-related because his employer owned the building that contained the stairwell and because the company encouraged workers to use the stairs as part of their employer-sponsored wellness program, according to the documents.

An administrative law judge ruled that Mr. Brown's fall did not arise out of and in the course of his employment because he "was not performing any employment services as an insurance coordinator at the time of the fall," records show. The Oklahoma Workers' Compensation Commission and the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals affirmed that decision.

But the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled in favor of Mr. Brown receiving workers comp benefits, finding that Mr. Brown was "performing a duty that he was required to perform" when he fell.

Mr. Brown was “was assigned a workstation that he could only reach, and then leave, by way of either the stairwell on the employer's premises or the elevator,” the ruling read. “He was required, upon reporting to work on the premises, to clock in and proceed to his work station just as he was required to clock out and leave it. By clocking out and exiting his second-floor work station, Brown was complying with his employers' instructions.”





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