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Caught between two freezers

October 2011 - Employment. Legal Developments by Norrbom Vinding Law Firm, member of ius laboris.

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Health and safety at work
There was no link between an employee’s accident at work and subsequent sick leave. Therefore, the employer was not liable to pay compensation.
If an employer is responsible for an accident at work, the employee will generally be entitled to compensation for loss of earnings. But not if it turns out there is no link between the accident and the physical problems which have caused the employee to take sick leave.
A warehouse employee suffered an accident at work when he was hit in the back by a transport device and got wedged between two freezers. His employer admitted liability, but the parties disagreed about whether the employee was entitled to compensation for loss of earnings for one of his sickness periods.
The warehouse employee therefore turned to the courts.
 
You can do it
The High Court noted that the employee had waited 3 weeks to see his doctor after the accident. In addition, his medical records showed that, when the accident happened, he had already been suffering from pain in his shoulders, lower back and neck.
Based on the opinion of the Danish Medico-Legal Council, the Court held that the problems suffered by the employee after the accident could well be the result of years of hard work.
On those grounds, the Court was not satisfied that the problems which made the employee take sick leave had been caused by the accident, and ruled in favour of the employer.
 
Norrbom Vinding notes:
  • that the case shows that pre-existing physical problems may be crucial in the test of whether there is a causal link between an accident at work and the physical problems which have caused an employee to take sick leave.
The above does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such

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