Greetings, Central Florida is the “lightning capital” of the US, and we have to deal with workplace injuries due to lightning strikes.
Attached is a 1946 case, Ft. Pierce Growers Ass_n v. Storey_ 158 Fla. 192, where the majority found that a lightning strike that injured a worker who was working outside arose out of his employment. There is a fairly strong dissent that concedes the worker was in the course and scope of employment but it does not arise out of employment unless there is basically an increased hazard. The judge stated:
“There is, however, an exception to this rule that compensation may be allowed if the employee “in the performance of the duties for which he was engaged, in the manner required or contemplated by the employer” is necessarily exposed to “a danger materially in excess of that to which people commonly in
that locality are exposed…”
There have been relatively few cases reported since then. In 2010, JCC Condry did a detailed analysis, finding a claim was compensable. It was appealed, and the 1st DCA affirmed his ruling without a written opinion. Judge Condry ruled:
- “In the instant case the question is not whether the injury was caused by an act of God, but
whether the employment can be said was the major contributing cause of the accident and
resultant injury. It is well recognized that central Florida is considered the lightning capital of the
United States where lightning strikes and death by lightning is high. It is also well known that the
risk of an individual being struck by lightning is significantly enhanced when they are outdoors
and surrounded by trees or bodies of water. “
- I find the clamant to be believable in his testimony that there were a significant number of tall
trees surrounding his work building and peppered throughout the parking lot and surrounding
area where he was injured. I fmd that only the duties ofills employment placed him outdoors
exposing him to the higher risk of being struck by lightning.
- The claimant “by virtue of his employment, his duties and the peculiarities of his job site
was placed at much greater risk of being struck by lightning than the general public.”
So it appears, if a claimant was working outside, and if there are other factors such as a lot of trees or water nearby, lightning strike injuries may be compensable. It’s going to be a case by case analysis of whether there is an increased hazard.
Here’s a link to the whole JCC decision:
As always, let me know if there are any questions.