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Fall Is No Accident

State: NY


Officer's Fall Getting Out of Car No 'Accident':


A police officer who fell while climbing out of his car in the parking lot of the precinct where he had worked for nine years was not entitled to accidental disability retirement benefits.


Case: Madaffari v. DiNapoli, No. 5500, 03/21/2013, published.


Facts: Richard Madaffari, a police officer, injured himself falling on a broken and uneven portion of sidewalk while exiting his patrol car in the precinct parking lot. He then applied for performance of duty and accidental disability retirement benefits.


Procedural History: Madaffari's application for performance of duty disability retirement benefits was approved, but his application for accidental disability retirement benefits was initially denied.


Madaffari requested a hearing, and the hearing officer ruled that his accidental disability application should have been granted.


The state comptroller disagreed and reversed the hearing officer's decision.

Analysis: The Appellate Division's 3rd Department said Madaffari bore the burden of demonstrating his entitlement to accidental disability retirement benefits by showing his injuries were the result of a "sudden and extraordinary event that is unrelated to the ordinary risks of employment."


Injuries that arise out of an employee's own misstep or inattention will not merit an accidental disability determination, the court explained. "In our view, petitioner has failed to demonstrate that the condition of the sidewalk was not readily observable prior to his fall or that his injury was caused by anything other than his own inattention or misstep."


Disposition: Confirmed.


To read the decision, click here.

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