Atwood v. The Sloane Group
Maine Employers' Mutual Insurance Company
April 20, 2016
Epileptic Seizure Fall Head Further Findings Environmental Hazards Compensability
Summary from the Troubh Heisler Attorneys
Atwood worked at a paper store and was at her desk eating lunch when she stood up, had an epileptic seizure and fell, striking her head on her desk. She first claimed that the head injury caused the seizure, but Judge Collier rejected that, found that the seizure caused her to fall, and denied her petition. Atwood asked for further findings raising a new theory of liability: even if the fall was caused by the seizure, her injuries were caused by the "work environment" when her head hit the desk. Judge Collier declined to issue additional findings and Atwood appealed.
The Appellate Division vacated the decision in part and remanded the case back to Judge Collier for additional findings. The Appellate Division discussed the compensability of such injuries and quoted at length Professor Larson’s treatise, Workers’ Compensation Law, which indicates that such injuries can be compensable if “the employment places the employee in a position increasing the dangerous effects of such a fall, such as on a height, near machinery or sharp corners, or in a moving vehicle.” He suggests that it is “a well-settled rule of law that idiopathic falls onto even familiar household objects such as tables and bookcases are compensable.”