shutterstock_2049816Here’s an interesting story for you: A Missouri woman was injured while using her office’s filing cabinet. She didn’t trip over an open drawer. The filing cabinet didn’t topple over and land on her. No, she was injured simply by pulling files from an overstuffed drawer.

Tammy Moore-Ransdell was a deed clerk for the Randolph County Assessor’s office in Missouri. Her job involved working with quite a lot of paper, which generally wasn’t a problem—until February 26, 2008. On that day, Tammy was updating some county records, as she so often did, and needed papers from the bottom drawer of a filing cabinet. In her own words, the filing cabinet was “extremely full” and “jammed up” with papers.

She squatted in front of the open drawer and grabbed the files she needed, but they were squeezed into the drawer so tightly that she had to twist her torso in order to free the files. Immediately, she felt a pain in her lower back. By the next morning, she was unable to get out of bed. Within a few days, her back pain led to numbness in one leg, and she was seeing an orthopedic surgeon.

Examinations found that Tammy had three degenerative discs in her lower back. Because her employer viewed this as a preexisting condition, they denied her workers’ comp claim. Eventually, the discs required Tammy to receive back surgery. She received the surgery and continued pushing for workers’ compensation.

After four long years of court proceedings and testimonies, Tammy finally received her workers’ comp. According to her doctor, though she had degenerative discs in her low back already, the symptoms and need for treatment were “directly related to the work injury in February 2008.” He stated that it was the injury that “triggered” the severe problems, and her preexisting condition would have remained dormant if not for that overstuffed filing cabinet.

Randolph County was found liable for the injury and ordered to pay $130,574 in medical expenses and temporary total disability benefits for 100 weeks from the time of injury. But that wasn’t all. Tammy’s condition was a permanent one. She was permanently restricted from lifting objects over ten pounds and could not sit or stand for prolonged periods of time, which her doctor stated as a 25% permanent disability. Because of this, Randolph County was also ordered to pay permanent partial disability benefits. Read the full story here.

Overall, it was a lose-lose situation for both parties involved. Tammy was permanently injured, and her life would never be the same, and Randolph County was forced to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills and disability benefits—all because their filing cabinet was filled with too many papers.

It’s a sad tragedy that easily could have been avoided with better document management. If your filing cabinets are overly stuffed, it’s important that you get things under control before something like this happens in your own office. eFileCabinet can reduce or eliminate the number of files you have in your office, so you won’t have to worry about overstuffed filing cabinets and potential liability issues. Contact one of our business efficiency experts to learn more.