So you get hurt while working. You automatically get workers’ compensation benefits, right? Not necessarily. Your claim may be denied based on many available defenses. In this video, Bernard discusses the idiopathic defense.
The general rule is that the employment must be the source and cause of the accident in order to be compensable as a workers’ compensation injury. Based on this rule, courts have held that injuries attributable solely to idiopathic factors are not compensable under the Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act. Idiopathic, when used by a Court in workers’ compensation cases, means “‘peculiar to the individual’ and not ‘arising from an unknown cause.’ Idiopathic refers to an employee’s pre‑existing physical weakness or disease.’” Ex parte Patterson, 561 So.2d 236, 238 (Ala.1990).
We see the idiopathic defense asserted many ways, but typically it involves falls, walking, walking up or down stairs and driving. The cases involving this defense are very fact specific.