The Dangerous Slippery Sidewalks of the University of Minnesota

One of the inherent dangers of working late is not being able to see where you’re walking when heading home after a long shift. This is especially true whenever inclement weather is a factor in one’s journey home. Non-ideal conditions and a dark night never made a good combination and can often lead to injury. When most people think of worker’s compensation, they think that the injury has to be incurred at work to count. However, if somebody experiences an injury to or from work are they still under the umbrella of liability?

This is essentially the situation surrounding a painter employed at the University of Minnesota. Josephine Hohlt was leaving her work early one December night in 2013, citing bad weather as her reasoning. She ended up breaking her hip after slipping and falling on the icy sidewalk on her short walk back to where her car was parked in the garage. She was unable to work for a full year and had many fees in hospital visits and bills to account for. Her case went all the way up to the State of Minnesota Supreme Court.The University fought desperately against the court’s ruling citing that there was nothing differentiating her from any other student that would have been walking that night. Here we can already guess the verdict since the University is basically taking the side of their nefarious sidewalks and throwing their students out in the cold. Justice Lillehaug countered the University’s assertion by stating that Hohlt was put in harm’s way not as an average citizen walking through the campus at night but as a painter leaving the premises of her employer. Ultimately the supreme court came to the conclusion that Hohlt’s injuries sustained as a result of walking home from work fell under the University’s liability to compensation. By concluding this ruling, the court essentially expanded the liability of workers compensation greatly. Much in favor of employees.

Agreeing fully with the court’s ruling I believe that Josephine deserves full financial compensation for her medical bills and incurred pain and suffering. The worker’s compensation attorneys at Robert Wilson & Associates believe that no employee should have to financial suffer from any burden obtained as a cause of going to work. This expansion of workers compensation has been desperately needed. Companies need to realize that they can’t just overwork their employees or work them into dangerous situations. Or at least, if they do put their work them into dark hours or unsafe conditions that they need to be held responsible for the consequences.

Having to make your employees work late on nights of inclement weather is putting their health and safety at risk. It is always unfortunate that good people have to get seriously hurt or injured for laws to change for the better. Thankfully Josephine Hohlt will be taken care of but the pain and suffering from her broken hip will follow her around for years to come.

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