78-year-old Rita Koepf is proud to work at Stop and Shop.
"I have the best friends in there. They're marvelous. It's like one big family," says Koepf, who works at the Cheshire store.
But two weeks ago, she had the worst day in her 13 years at that location when she was walking down a long, dark hallway to punch in for her shift.
"All of a sudden... this long wagon, I tripped over. I heard my teeth crack on the floor and I'm screaming, 'Help. Help. I need help'," she recalled.
Half an hour later, a co-worker heard her cries and got help. Doctors discovered fractures to Rita's face and arm, several lacerations and shattered dentures. Rita is recuperating at Hamden Healthcare. Her son, Alan Harrison says a case worker sent by Stop and Shop paid her a visit, and last week they received surprising news from the company.
"They have denied financial responsibility for the claim, citing that mom was in a restricted area at the time of the accident," Harrison said.
Rita say that "area" has been her route to the time clock for 13 years. The Troubleshooters spoke to several employees in the Cheshire store who say they use that same route from the locker room to punch in every day. In fact, they said there's no management policy or any signs in that corridor that would keep them out.
We reached out to Stop and Shop about Rita's case. Twenty-four hours later, we received an email from the corporate communications department which reads in part:
"While this associate's workers' compensation claim was initially denied, the decision has been reversed and the claim is still under evaluation."
Rita's ultimate goal is pretty simple, to get well enough to return to work.
If you're injured at work, the State of Connecticut's Workers Compensation Commission recommends you: immediately report injury/illness to your employer, accept initial medical treatment from an employer-designated physician and file a 30C claim form. Click here to access the PDF of the form.