Will you receive workers’ compensation benefits if you are injured on the job as a result of horseplay with co-workers?
Missouri law states that injuries resulting from a work-related task will be eligible for compensation; whereas, those sustained in horseplay may not be. Employers and insurance companies, while investigating work-related injuries, always check whether any horseplay was involved among the employees which resulted in the injuries being cited for compensation claim.
The Legal Definition of Horseplay
To understand the effect of horseplay on a workers’ compensation claim, we must first know the legal definition of horseplay and how employers and insurance companies use the clause to deny compensation. ‘Horseplay’ or ‘goofing off’ is an act of having rough fun, it is a dangerous activity, and can result in injuries.
Horseplay is not accepted in the workplace as it does not contribute to productive work being accomplished; rather it may be hazardous for employees. In case someone has been injured while being a victim of horseplay and not being a participant, he or she is eligible for receiving workers’ compensation for the injuries sustained. Three examples of horseplay which resulted in injuries and the status of compensation claim in each case will be helpful in understanding the effect of horseplay on workers’ compensation.
Case Studies of Horseplay Among Employees
- Case Study #1: A man injured his knee and came to work while using crutches. A co-worker, to have fun, tips him over while the man is still on crutches. The man falls down and severely injures his already injured knee. The man applies for workers’ compensation for his injury and receives the same. He has been a victim of horseplay and not the instigator hence he was entitled for compensation.
- Case Study #2: A restaurant worker, in an act of fun with his co-worker, kicked his leg several feet into the air from under the co-worker. The floor was wet and the worker, who was kicking his leg, fell down injuring his leg and groin. The worker was provided compensation as the court ruled that the act was not horseplay, as it acted for a few seconds and it was also a normal behavior for the waiting staff at the restaurant and not considered unacceptable behavior.
- Case Study #3: At a construction site, a worker tries to playfully bump his co-worker with the rear view mirror of his truck. The co-worker had shaken his backside at the man and the man in the truck tried to play along. While reversing the truck, instead of the rear-view mirror, the man bumped his co-worker with the bed of the vehicle and injured the co-worker. The compensation claim filed in this case was denied as it was an act of horseplay, beyond the regular scope of work, and the injured man was also engaged in the event.