Visitor Question

Fractured wrist from fall on sidewalk while leaving work…

Submitted By: Stephanie (Rockingham, Virginia)

As I was leaving work I tripped/stumbled on an area of the sidewalk that was higher than the surrounding areas and that had a wide expansion joint. I fractured my wrist from the fall, resulting in surgery and 4 months out of work.

The workers comp insurer would not pay claim stating that the sidewalk was used by the general public and anyone could have suffered a similar accident.

The sidewalk is owned and maintained by my employer and is part of the complex where I work. It is the main entrance to my work place. Employees and others having business with my employer use this entrance, but it is not a “public” sidewalk in the way that a city street sidewalk would be.

My position is that I would not have been on the sidewalk if I did not work at this facility. I have an upcoming hearing with workers compensation and wondered what my chances are? Any perspective you can give on this issue would be great.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Stephanie,

Interestingly enough, it might not be so bad if your workers compensation claim is denied. If it is you will likely have a right to sue your employer outside the workers compensation structure. In private lawsuits you can pursue personal injury claims for medical bills, out of pocket expenses for medications, etc, lost wages AND for your pain and suffering.

With workers compensation you would be limited to partial recovery of your lost wages, if any, and your medical bills and medications. You would not though be able to recover any amount for pain and suffering, sometimes called emotional distress or mental anguish.

Because the sidewalk is owned by your employer and not the city you won’t have to go through a governmental “tort claim” process. That’s fortunate as there are short filing periods and substantial paperwork with governmental injury claims.

Some personal injury claims can be handled personally and without the need of legal counsel. Those are generally “soft tissue” injuries and include sprains, strains, minor cuts and bruises, etc. Your claim is a more serious “hard injury.” With hard injuries there’s just too much at stake. Depositions may have to be taken, pretrial discovery effected, and more. Fortunately most personal injury attorneys don’t charge for initial office consultations. You’d be well served to visit with several.

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

Best of luck,

Published: May 25, 2013

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