D. Lissa was a hardworking 19-year-old employed full time at one of the many chicken processing plants in Sussex County, Delaware. One day during her shift, Lissa had to take a bathroom break and made a quick pit stop to the restroom. As Lissa attempted to exit the stall in the bathroom she slipped and fell on the bathroom floor, injuring her right arm. Luckily, for Lissa, a fellow co-worker was in the restroom at the same time and witnessed the fall. She helped Lissa get up and took her to the in house nurse/wellness facility within the plant. The nurses at the wellness facility provided Lissa with over the counter pain medication, ice, and instructed her to not use her right arm. As required by the employer, Lissa immediately reported the accident to her supervisor. Her supervisor informed her to return to work with only using her uninjured left arm.
Days went by and Lissa’s injury to her right arm did not improve. However, being the hard worker, that she was and not being able to afford not having an income, she continued to work with her left arm only. Each time Lissa complained of the pain, her supervisor sent her back to the employer’s in-house wellness facility and each time the nurses provided her an over the counter pain medication, ice, and instructed to return to work only using her uninjured arm. Each day the pain in her right arm got worse and worse. Each time Lissa asked to see a different doctor or even go to the hospital, she was told that she could only be treated at the in-house wellness facility.
This continued for a whole month until finally, with the help of her church’s pastor, Lissa saw an orthopedic specialist outside of the employer’s in-house wellness facility. Lissa’s doctor immediately took her out of work completely, ordered diagnostics to the right arm, and prescribed physical therapy. When Lissa informed her employer that she was not able to work due to her doctor’s orders, she was given the cold shoulder. Another month went by with Lissa unable to work due to her doctor’s orders and without any income or wage benefits. The final straw for Lissa was when the employer’s workers’ compensation carrier informed her that her claimed was denied and they would not pay any medical bills or her wage benefits. Due to her frustration, Lissa hired our firm to represent her.
Immediately our office filed the appropriate petition with the State of Delaware’s Industrial Accident Board to compel the employer to acknowledge Lissa’s work related injury and provide her with all workers’ compensation benefits that was owed to her.
Under Delaware law, when an employee is injured during the scope and course of employment, an employer must provide the employee the workers compensation benefits which include but are not limited to payment of medical bills and wage benefits that is related to the injury sustained in the work accident. In addition, under Delaware law, an injured employee has the right to choose the doctor to treat him/her for the work related injury as long as the Doctor is certified to treat work related injuries with the Department of Labor. Further, under the “personal comfort doctrine” in Delaware law, when an employee is injured in the employer’s premise while engaged in acts which mister to personal comfort are considered incident to employment and compensable. Examples of acts, which “minister" personal comfort, include but are not limited to eating, drinking, sleeping, resting, washing, smoking, and seeking fresh air.