Tripped over bench on my way to work at the casino...

by Lori
(Marshall, Michigan)

Due to construction at the casino where I work, we had to take a different route to punch into work. I turned to talk to the security guard and fell over a two foot bench in the middle of the floor. I broke my humerus bone, hurt my back, and have a concussion. I also am suffering with bleeding behind the eyes.

The casino forced me to go to the workmans comp hospital 30 miles away. I was told my injuries would be covered under workmans comp but now I'm being told I'm not covered. I'm told I have to quit my job because I have used all my FMLA and will not be given any more time off. I have to have surgery on Thursday.

What can I do? Should this be covered under workmans comp or not? If not, is there any other way I can get my medical bills covered? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Tripped over bench on my way to work at the casino...":

Lori (Marshall, Michigan):

Here are the considerations:

Workers' compensation insurance covers injuries sustained by employees while performing their customary work duties.

From the facts you present, you had not yet "punched in" to work. In most cases, workers' comp coverage does not begin until such time as an employee begins to perform his or her customary work duties at a time and place designated by the employer.

Inasmuch as you had not yet punched in, you were not working within the confines of your customary job duties at the time you were injured. As a result, the workers' comp insurance carrier will be within its rights not to provide coverage.

However, while workers' compensation may not be legally obligated to provide coverage, you appear to have the basis of a slip and fall injury claim against the casino owner.

For all intents and purposes, you were not a covered employee at the time of your injury. Instead, you were a "Licensee." At the time of your injuries you enjoyed the legal rights afforded guests at the casino.

Business property owners have a legal duty of care to do everything within reason to assure Licensees legally upon the premises do not suffer undue harm or injuries. In most cases, property owners will be held accountable, or "liable" for a Licensee’s injuries and resulting damages when:

- The property owner knows or should know there is a condition on the property which poses an unreasonable risk of harm to anyone who encounters it; and

- The property owner could not reasonably expect the Licensee to realize the existence of danger or how serious the danger is;

- The property owner did not use reasonable care to eliminate the danger or to warn visitors that there was a dangerous condition on the property; and

- The licensee was unaware of the dangerous condition and the risk it posed.

Damages are unique to every personal injury claim. In slip and fall accidents, damages can include medical and therapy bills, out-of-pocket expenses (for such items as medications, crutches, wheelchairs, etc.), your lost wages, and for your pain and suffering.

While being injured is unfortunate, having slipped and fallen just before you punched in may have been fortuitous. You see, workers' comp insurance does not include payment for pain and suffering, a slip and fall personal injury claim does.

Because of the seriousness of your injuries, your best interests would be served by consulting with several personal injury attorneys in your area. Most injury attorneys will not charge any fee for an initial office consultation. Moreover, once you retain an attorney you will not have to pay anything until, and unless he or she settles your claim or wins the case at trial.

The key in this case will be for your attorney to prove the casino owner knew, or should have known the placement of the bench would post a serious danger to guests or other persons legally upon the property, and that you did not contribute to your injuries (causation).

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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TYPE OF ACCIDENT
AUTO ACCIDENT
PERSONAL INJURY
WORKERS COMPENSATION
MEDICAL ERROR
YES! I WANT FAIR COMPENSATION