In Tennessee and all over the country, when employees injury themselves on the job or while performing job related tasks, they can file a workers’ compensation claim and have their medical expenses covered by their employer. In some cases however, it is difficult to determine whether or not certain injuries in specific situations should be compensated by Workers’ Compensation law. In these cases the states’ Supreme Court typically makes a ruling.
In a recent case, David Kirby was performing heating, ventilation, and air conditioning services for Memphis Jewish Nursing Home in September of 2008 and injured his right shoulder while trying to avoid falling down a flight of stairs. He had surgery for the injury in June of 2009 to repair a tendon and cartilage in his arm. Months after his surgery, David Kirby returned home after a medical appointment and found one of his dogs was running loose. He grabbed the dog by the collar and when the dog pulled away, this motion, caused David to reinjure his arm.
When the case was brought before a Tennessee Chancery Court, it was ruled that David Kirby did not act negligently when trying to restrain his dog and the re-injured arm was considered to be “a natural consequence of the original injury.” The court awarded forty percent partial disability benefits to Kirby based on the first injury and the impairment caused by the dog incident.
When the nursing home appealed the decision, the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel of the Tennessee Supreme Court confirmed the Chancery Court’s decision. It ruled testimony from Kirby’s doctor which encouraged him to push past his limits while recovering from his arm surgery. The doctor’s testimony also stated that Kirby was not restricted from walking his dog after his surgery.