Positional-Risk Doctrine Law and Legal Definition

Positional risk doctrine is a principle which holds that an injury arises out of employment if the injured worker's employment required the worker to be at the place where the injury occurred at the time it occurred. This is one of the tests applied to find if the injury arises during the course of employment.

Usually, if a normal risk causes an accident, the accident does not arise out of a worker's employment. But if a position that the workman must necessarily occupy in connection with his/her work results in excessive exposure to the common risk, or if the continuity or exceptional amount of exposure aggravates the common risk, then the accident did not arise out of the common risk, but out of the employment. [Ceasco, Inc. v. Byrom, 895 So. 2d 932 (Ala. Civ. App. 2002)]

The following is an example of a case law defining the doctrine of positional risk:

"An injury arises out of the employment if it would not have occurred but for the fact that the conditions and obligations of the employment placed claimant in the position where he was injured. This theory supports compensation, for example, in cases of stray bullets, roving lunatics and other situations in which the only connection of the employment with the injury is that its obligations placed the employee in the particular place at the particular time when he was injured by some neutral force, meaning by 'neutral' neither personal to the claimant nor distinctly associated with the employment."[Tolbert v. Martin Marietta Corp., 621 F. Supp. 1099, 1101 (D. Colo. 1985)]