As workers’ compensation lawyers, we constantly receive questions from clients about various workplace injuries that they have suffered. One question we sometimes get is whether or not workers are eligible for compensation if they are injured while using the restroom at work. We explain the answer to this question below.
Bathroom Injuries at Work
Kellie Farricker worked for Bravo Brio Restaurant Group and suffered work-related injuries to her head, neck and back in March 2009. Her doctors cleared her for maximum medical improvement by 2012.
In April 2016, Ms. Farricker experienced sharp pains in her lower back when she was on the toilet. Worried about the new symptom, Farricker went to the ER after she began to feel pain and numbness in her legs. A doctor examined her symptoms and gave her an MRI, which revealed that Farricker had a herniated lumbar disc. According to her doctors, the newly discovered injury would require surgery.
Although Farricker applied for temporary total disability (TTD), citing that her herniated disc was related to the injuries she suffered in 2009, her employer denied the claim. Bravo Brio said the reason for the denial was because the new injury became apparent 7 years after her previous claim.
A physician assessment submitted by Bravo Brio came to the conclusion that Farricker’s discs were degenerating long before she suffered her injury in the bathroom. In the physician’s opinion, surgery and treatment weren’t compatible with the conditions that must be met under Farricker’s original injury claim.
Despite the physician’s opinion, Farricker took her case to court where both the surgery and TTD were authorized. According to the court, the injury sustained on the toilet was an exacerbation of her pre-existing condition. Bravo Brio attempted to appeal the ruling, but was unsuccessful after a staff hearing officer once again agreed with Farricker’s arguments.
Bravo Brio sought a new order to deny Farricker’s medical treatment by filing for a writ of mandamus relief. The restaurant argued that the injury was an intervening injury, but the commission did not buy into the argument that Farricker’s condition developed separately from the initial workers’ comp injuries.
In her opinion, Ohio’s court of appeals magistrate, Stephanie Bisca, said “the commission did not abuse its discretion in finding that [Farricker] here did not sustain an intervening injury when she wiped herself after utilizing the bathroom facilities. This is an ordinary, everyday event which, as a general rule, does not cause any injury.”
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If you have suffered a work related injury, you should immediately consult with our team to find out what legal options are available for you. We can review the details of your injury and build a strong case strategy that will help you recover maximum compensation. Let us get to work for you today.
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