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I had a conversation with a very nice woman recently who has a sad situation.  Long story short is that when she went to sit down in her work chair, she felt a pop in her back. It turns out that she has a herniated disc.

Unfortunately I don’t think she has a case. In order for her to prevail she’d have to show that something about the job contributed to her problem. Since people sit in chairs every day, what happened to her isn’t enough.  If the chair had broken that would be a case.  If it rolled when she sat, that could be enough.  If she did a lot of lifting for the job we might win.

But in this case there was nothing about the job that caused the back to give out.  Just because you are at work when hurt does not mean you have a work comp case. Something about the job must put you at an increased risk of injury for you to prevail.

It’s not just sitting where this applies.  If you are walking and your knee gives out for no reason, then no case. On the other hand if you are running to a meeting or step in a hole then you do have a case.  If you are walking down the stairs and fall, but have no idea why, then no case.  On the other hand if you are walking down the stairs and slip because the carpeting gives way then you have a case.

Facts and specifics really matter.  Of course when you fall and are in tremendous pain, you aren’t always thinking about why you fell.  That makes sense.  At the same time, as soon as you can you should inspect the site where you fell to see if any defect (wet floor, broken chair, hole in carpet, etc.) caused you to fall.

Bonus tip, this is a big reason why you never give a recorded statement.  Often it’s not until after the fact that you can put together why you fell. If you say you don’t know why you fell, you lose.  If that’s the truth then so be it, but if you really meant to say you don’t know why you fell, but the floor was slippery or the chair moved then you could be talking your way out of a legit case.