by | Jun 22, 2022

In Settje v. Walmart Associates, Inc., the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court provided guidance as to when an employer has sufficient notice of a potentially compensable injury.

Pursuant to Section 48-133, an employee is required to give notice of their injury to their employer within a practicable time. The plaintiff argued that he complained generally about his back pain to his supervisor, and that those complaints were sufficient to constitute notice to Walmart. Although, the plaintiff acknowledged he never specifically told his supervisor about his accident. The plaintiff’s supervisor testified that he believed the plaintiff was complaining about a previous back injury from 2015.

Referencing Bauer v. Genesis Healthcare Group, the Court found that:

When an injury happens as the result of a single accident that leads to immediate medical attention, as was the case in Bauer, the injured worker must provide notice as soon as practicable. On the other hand, when the injury is the result of repetitive trauma and/or the cause of the injury is not readily apparent to the injured worker, then mere knowledge of the injury on behalf of the employer is sufficient to constitute notice as required by § 48-133.

Our blog post discussing Bauer can be found here.

The Court found that the facts of Settje were substantially similar to the facts of Bauer. The plaintiff in Settje sustained an accident at work that caused him to seek immediate medical attention, which was enough to trigger his responsibility to give notice of the injury to the employer as soon as practicable.

Therefore, the Court determined that the plaintiff did not give proper notice to Walmart as required by Section 48-133 because he did not tell the defendant about his specific accident at all.

Additionally, the plaintiff in Settje argued that he did give proper notice as soon as practicable after the accident because he discussed his back pain on numerous occasions with his co-workers and fellow assistant managers. The plaintiff argued that those conversations were enough to constitute notice to Walmart.

The Court held that “discussions with subordinate employees and fellow employees of the same level are not sufficient to impute knowledge and notice of the accident” to Walmart.

This post was drafted by Faith Kowalski, a law clerk at Baylor Evnen. If you have questions regarding notice of an injury, please call Paul Barta or Micah Hawker-Boehnke at 402-475-1075.