I recently met with a client who was involved in a motor vehicle accident while driving at truck for work. He became dizzy while he was driving and rear-ended another driver. He sustained multiple orthopedic injuries as a result of the accident. He went to the hospital and the doctors told him he was not able to drive for a week due to the dizzy spells he was having. The question then arose as to whether or not workers’ compensation was going to pay him for the week he was out of work.
In this type of case, where a condition unrelated to employment causes an accident, treatment for the unrelated condition is not covered under workers’ compensation, but any injuries sustained as a result of the accident are covered. So in this case, the accident was caused by a dizzy spell and any treatment for that condition will not be covered. Also not covered is the time he is out of work since he is unable to drive due to the dizzy spells. Workers compensation will cover the treatment for the orthopedic injuries that this client sustained as a direct result of the motor vehicle accident since he was driving in the course of his employment.
The Supreme Court of New Jersey addressed just this issue in George v. Great Eastern Food Products Inc.,44 N.J.44 (1965). In that case, the employee died from a fractured skull sustained as the result of an ideopathic fall (used in the sense of a fall caused by a purely personal condition having no work connection whatever) “in the course of” his employment. An attack of dizziness, apparently induced by some cardiovascular condition, precipitated the occurrence. He did not strike anything until his head hit the level concrete flood upon which he was standing, bringing about the injury. The Court held that if the fall “was occasioned by or was the result of a disease or physical seizure and was not contributed by ‘what the workman had to do’ it is not compensable. On the other hand, if the fall ‘would not have occurred but for the services rendered’ in the employment, it is covered by the statute.”
The Supreme Court further held, “if the employee is caused to fall idiopathically and is located in the course of his employment at even a slight height at the fall’s inception or is standing at floor level and on the way down falls into a pit or strikes a table, chair, desk, stove, machinery or some other object situate on the employment premises, the resulting injury is compensable.” citing Reynolds v. Passaic Valley Sewerage Commissioners, 130 N.J.L. 437 (Sup. Ct. 1943).
The facts of your particular case are very important in determining what is compensable and what is not. The attorney’s at Stark & Stark are familiar with these types of cases and can help you sort out what treatment should be covered by workers’ compensation insurance. Please contact me if you have questions regarding your workers’ compensation case. I’d be happy to meet with you, here in my firm’s Lawrenceville, New Jersey office, free of charge to review your case in more detail.