An injury resulting from an “Act of God” or weather condition (that a normal member of the public would not be exposed to) may be compensable if the injury falls under the purview of the following elements: (1) an “accident” (2) that arose out of and in the course of employment.
The first prong, or the “accident” requirement, occurs when the “Act of God” results from a sudden, unexpected, natural condition, such as a lightning, or hail. However, the result must be either unexpected or unusual. The test is whether, under all circumstances, the employee was exposed to a greater risk by reason of his employment and duties than was imposed upon an ordinary member of the public.
Therefore, if an employee is going to attempt to recover for his injuries resulting from natural conditions he must show the following under the “accident” prong:
- That he was exposed to a greater risk than the general public;
- That the climatic and industrial exposure conditions caused the injuries as a matter of medical fact; and
- The resulting injury was unexpected and unusual.
The disease or injury must have arisen out of and in the course of employment. This means that where the work and the method of doing work exposes the employee to the forces of nature to a greater extent than he would be if not so engaged, the industry has increased the danger from such forces and the employer is liable.
For example, in Hiers v. Brunson Construction Company, the court stated that the general rule is that injuries resulting from exposure to conditions due to the weather or natural elements, such as heat, cold, ice, or snow, are generally classified as risks to which the general public is exposed and as not coming within the purview of the Workers’ Compensation Act. The injured person at the time he receives the injury may have been discharging duties incident to in the course of his employment.
Contact our Fort Mill, South Carolina office at 877-374-5999 with legal questions.