Mario was working as a plumber. He was hired to clear out some pipes with some nasty vegetation. As he descended down, he slipped on some mushrooms and broke his leg. He is upset because the workers’ compensation carrier, Turtlespikes Ins. Co, has denied his workers’ compensation claim. They told him it was a “neutral risk”, and thus not covered. He’s upset because now he cannot work, and his brother has to do double duty. Is Turtlespikes Ins. Co. right? Is this claim barred by the neutral risk test?
First, we have to look at what a Neutral risk is in the eyes of the law. Neutral risks are neither distinctly employment nor distinctly personal in character. Determining whether an injury resulting from a neutral risk arises out of employment is a question of fact to be decided in each case. A neutral risk includes being hit by a stray bullet, being struck by lightning, or being bitten by a poisonous insect. They also include cases in which the cause itself, or the character of the cause, is simply unknown. For example, an unexplained fall is considered a neutral risk. So, for example, if you were walking down a staircase that was free of defects, then it is likely a neutral risk.
In Mario’s case, he slipped on some mushrooms. The question to answer is whether the exposure to mushrooms was a risk that came from his employment. In this case, it likely is, and his claim would be overturned.
Neutral risk is something that is complicated to understand. Sometimes, carrying an object for your employer while falling may lead to coverage. Tripping over a defect at work may lead to coverage, like slipping on some mushrooms while cleaning out large green piping. There are many facts that may impact coverage. Having an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can mean the difference between getting your claim covered, or having it denied.
At Parnell, Michels & McKay we have a detailed investigation process and decades of experience litigating workers’ compensation cases. If you need help with your work injury, contact the experienced attorneys at PMM law.