The Old ‘Normal Bodily Movement’ Defense

The Old ‘Normal Bodily Movement’ Defense


Every so often we receive a call here at the Law Offices of Marc Francis, workers compensation lawyers in Santa Rosa, that goes something like this:

“I was walking on a jobsite where the ground was wet and soft in places and I felt a ‘snap’ in my knee as my foot sank into the ground. I reported this to my supervisor. I had to have surgery, plus missing time from work. Later the insurance company told me that my injury was not work-related because, they said, the injured knee could have happened to me anywhere at any time because, they said, I had arthritis in my knee.”

This is what is known in California workers compensation as the ’Normal Bodily Movement’ defense. Every so often an insurance carrier raises this defense to providing workers compensation benefits. The Workers Compensation Appeals Board determines whether such injuries are compensable, hearing evidence in the form of witness testimony and medical reports from treating doctors and/or qualified medical examiners. The injured worker must present substantial medical evidence of injury to win the case, but to do that the worker must only show that the factors of employment that caused injury was one of the contributing causes of the injury.

So, in the fictional example above, so long as the medical evidence shows that walking at work on ground that was wet and soft in some places were one of the causes of injury to the knee, it is irrelevant for purposes of a finding of a work injury that there was preexisting arthritis in the knee. The evidence must show in such a case that the activity at work aggravated the pre-existing arthritis.

It’s important to understand that in California workers compensation cases the insurance company cannot avoid responsibility for providing benefits by simply claiming that “the injury could have happened anywhere.”

Contact us for a free consultation when you need a Sonoma County workers comp lawyer regarding problems you may have as a result of work activity, even if the insurance carrier denies your case claiming it was a ’normal bodily movement.’ Call us at (707) 664-9675.

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