Workplace injuries can come out of the blue, or from beneath a worker’s feet. A Connecticut worker suffered a work-related injury recently in what authorities called a freak accident, when a warehouse floor collapsed under the forklift he was driving. He was taken to a nearby hospital and treated for a back injury.

Police said the worker was operating a forklift inside a shipping company warehouse when an eight-foot sinkhole suddenly opened up underneath him. He was able to climb out of the hole by himself, but complained of a back injury. Inspectors were set to determine whether the rest of the building was still structurally sound.

When workers are hurt on the job, they can be left with huge medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, lost wages and other damages. Connecticut’s workers’ compensation system is designed to help with some of these losses by giving benefits to injured workers. However, there can be many complexities with the process of applying for and receiving benefits. When employers refuse to honor a request for benefits, employees can be left in a bad state, stuck with huge bills and, in some cases, not able to return to work.

The first question to answer in investigating a workers’ compensation claim is whether the injury was work-related. Whether the injury occurred at the workplace or off-site, if the employee was performing work-related tasks at the time of the injury, workers’ compensation should generally provide benefits. However, there are sometimes arguments over whether a worker was off-site on work-related business or was merely running an errand on the way to a work-related function. In other cases, an employee may have been at the workplace, but was injured in the course of so-called horseplay that was not work-related.

Connecticut’s workers’ compensation system is designed to streamline the process of getting benefits to workers who need them, but it doesn’t always operate as smoothly as it should. Workers who need to file a claim, or who are having trouble getting the benefits they requested, should get help researching the law and their legal options.

Source:, “Forklift operator survives collapse of East Rutherford warehouse floor,” Allison Pries and Jim Norman, May 20, 2013