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Unusual workplace accidents may still be compensable

Workers are entitled to receive compensation for injuries they suffer on the job. This may seem like a clear-cut statement to our Utica readers. However, when it comes time to file a claim, an injured worker may face any number of excuses, defenses or even attempts to shift blame onto the injured worker.

For example, take the following story from a construction site in the Midwest. It happened on a hot summer day a few years ago. One worker played a prank on another, tricking him into giving away his spot in an air-conditioned vehicle. That led to a chase, during which the first worker fell and broke his ankle.

When the injured employee filed for workers' compensation benefits, he ran into opposition from his employer. Because "horseplay" was forbidden by company rules, they argued, the employee should not be eligible to collect workers' compensation. The case went all the way to the state's supreme court.

The ruling, delivered recently, supported the worker's claim. The court did not accept the argument that anything in the case represented a "substantial deviation" from his regular work. Therefore, the injury should be compensated just like any other injury on the job, according to the court.

This case was decided in another state, and it is highly unusual in a number of ways. In general, if an employee is injured while acting recklessly and dangerously, the likelihood of receiving workers' compensation benefits will slip, perhaps to zero. But this doesn't mean that any accident that occurred away from one's desk or outside of one's literal job duties is automatically disqualified. Workers' compensation benefits may be broader than some employees realize -- which is why it can be important to check with a legal professional after suffering a workplace injury.

Source: Keloland.com, "Man Gets Workers' Compensation After Injury From Prank," June 4, 2015

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