A firefighter who injured her knee while standing up at her desk suffered an “idiopathic” injury that was not compensable, the Georgia Court of Appeals ruled in a split decision.
Pamela Chambers worked as a firefighter/EMT for Monroe County. On the day she was injured, she was sitting at a desk when her supervisor asked if she could get up so that he could use the desk. When she stood from the chair, she felt and heard a “pop” in her left knee. She was later transported to the hospital emergency room. She has had knee surgery and will likely need to have a knee replacement.
When the matter went before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) of the State Board of Workers’ Compensation (SBWC), the ALJ found the injury compensable because Chambers was required to be in the location where she was injured and was following supervisor’s orders. However, upon appeal by the employer, the Appellate Division of the SBWC vacated the ALJ’s award.
The Appellate Division failed to find any “evidence that the Employee slipped, tripped, or fell or came in contact with any object or hazard that increased her risk of injury.” In summary, Chambers could not show a causal connection between the injury and her employment. The Appellate Division’s findings were later affirmed by the superior court before falling upon the steps of the Georgia Court of Appeals.
Given how recently the Court of Appeals decision was rendered, it will be interesting to see whether this matter moves on to the highest court in the state, the Supreme Court of Georgia.
Read the whole decision here