What type of injury does workmen’s comp cover?

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What type of injury does workmen’s comp cover?

My employer enacted a policy that we were required to wear leather or suede shoes. My history: at the age of 4, I was bitten by a rattlesnake which resulted in my having a skin graft on my foot which in turnand slowed the growth of my foot. I have to wear 2 different size shoes and do not have the flexibility as normal with it. Since this policy was enforced I have been through 5 different pairs of shoes in trying to find a pair that worked for me comfortably to wear. With that the last pair has now rubbed the bone enough to my left ankle to cause an open wound. Skin grafts are very difficult to heal. I saw my family physician and he attempted treatment which has not helped, so now he is referring me on to a plastic surgeon/wound care specialist. Is my employer responsible for any of this due to their policy?

Asked on March 7, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Alabama

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

No, the employer is not responsible for this injury. It was not an injury caused by work (e.g. by a machine at work; or a car accident while making a delivery), but is instead an injury occasioned by a factor unique to you and by your difficulty in complying with a known work requirement. Employers may set terms and conditions of employment, including dress codes, and employees have to follow them; if an employee cannot and will not, the employee probably may not be able to work in that capacity. Similarly, if an employer said that employees had to be clean shaven, it would not be an injury that the employer is responsible for that an employee cut himself badly while shaving off a beard. You situation warrants sympathy, but almost certainly not result in worker's compensation.

A suggestion: have you considered--though it is more expensive--buy two pairs of a shoe in two different sizes?  One sized for your right foot and one for your left? To reduce that cost, have you discussed with your employer whether you may purchase instead a synthetic leather--there are some which are essentially indistinguishable from the real thing.


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