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Stranger Things Have Possibly Happened

20 Feb

An Australia government employee was injured in a motel room while on a business trip and she wasn’t playing canasta.  While the lower court there ruled that this was not arising out of employment, that decision was overruled by the Australian Federal Court.  Now, if you think that type of claim could never happen here, consider the following:

  • Housekeeper files for benefits under domestic Workers’ Compensation claiming carpal tunnel syndrome from regularly, shall we say, servicing the “master” of the house.  The Workers’ Compensation insurance company paid loss of wages, medical and rehabilitation expenses.  Retraining was apparently not required.  As a side note, this claim was reported by the wife.

On to some other strange and just weird claims:

  • A woman working out of her house, tripped over the family dog, breaking her wrist.  The Appeals Board asserted that since the home was her work environment and she was injured while working, the claim would be covered under the Workers’ Compensation policy.
  • This claim occurred in a monopolistic state.  A number of employees were roughhousing during a mandatory team building event.  A group of them were in a canoe, saw a coworker standing on the riverbank and tried to pull him into the river.  One of the male employees grabbed him, threw him to the ground and caused a neck injury.  The Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s decision since this was a mandatory business event.  Horseplay doesn’t necessarily remove a claim from the Workers’ Compensation system.
  •  Apparently in at least one state, smoking a little weed doesn’t mean that an injury can’t be covered under Workers’ Compensation.  A man mauled by a wild animal at a tourist park claimed employee status.  The employer argued that he was a volunteer and he had smoked marijuana that day.  The state’s Supreme Court states that he received compensation for his duties and that his habit was not the major cause of his injury and ruled in favor of the employee.
  • A group of employees were sent to a two-day training conference.  At the end of the first day, a group of the employees first attended a company
    dinner, then visited three bars over a four hour period.  After going back to their hotel, three of the employees decided they should climb out of a bathroom window onto the roof of their second-story hotel.  One of them leaned against a rail which gave way and the employee sustained injuries due to the fall.  The appellate court ruled that benefits should be denied stating that the employee’s conduct was unreasonable under the circumstances.
  • A man, working as a maintenance worker at a trailer park was asked to go into a trailer to investigate a very bad smell.  He found the decomposing body of an opossum and suffered a heart attack.  Although he had a pre-existing heart condition, the jury ruled that the injury was work related and, therefore, covered under the Workers’ Compensation policy.
  • Then there was the injury of a 21-year old man who gave a vending machine at his employer’s place of business a push to dislodge a bag of chips for a female coworker.  He suffered a displaced fracture in his neck and was awarded benefits by the state Appellate Court.
  • A co-worker’s perfume was found to have aggravated an employee’s pre-existing COPD.  The Appellate Court found that was a compensable injury as it arose out of employment.
  • An employee was off the job due to an employment-related injury when he was arrested and incarcerated for solicitation of murder (of his wife).  This was deemed to be involuntary removal from employment.  His benefits were to be continued.
  • An employee was injured while working at a fast-food establishment.  Part of the insulation of an electrical wire to a microwave oven had been removed and the employee sustained electrical burns.  The act of removal did not rise to the level of intentional tort liability, although clearly injuries arising out of and in the course of employment.

So, what is the moral of this collection?  Sometimes the employer is held responsible, even when, at first glance, it sounds absurd.  But then, humans can act in absurd and strange ways and cause themselves or others harm in the process.

Although I cannot confirm the veracity of the following, I couldn’t resist including these  claimant statements that I found at http://www.funny2.com (no – everything found on the internet is not true!).  Sometimes, it is all how you phrase it!

  • My head injuries have created a permanent increase in libido which has led to two affairs and has ruined my marriage.
  • I got my right hand first finger in the saw while helping Mike and staying out of his way. My finger bled and it affected my mind.
  • I chipped my tooth on a cookie while visiting a customer.
  • While on duty, I was hit in the face by a hand. My glasses were broke and something hit my eye. No one believes I was hit but it hurt!
  • Hot grease splashed on me and fried my thumb.
  • I was working on my job and got a pain at the end of the week.
  • Accident unnecessarily occurred on account of a misjudgment.
  • I ran down the steps and when I got to the end, my feet wouldn’t stop.
  • I had my hand in the machine while the air was off. Someone turned on switches and folded my hand.
  • I was assaulted and attacked by a vicious employee because he didn’t like me and I know it.
  • The patient was going to fall for me. I could not let this happen. In so preventing this, I caused myself damage to my knee.
  • This is for the cut on my hand, but I took the stitches out myself. However, I am filing on account of the watchdog biting me and on account of a hurt I got in a fall in the paint shop.
  • In performing the job of which I am capable, I didn’t know the machine was on and was showing my new helper what not to do and did.
  • I was proving that I could carry an air compressor and I strained my back.
  • I looked into the hose to see why the water did not come out. It came.
  • I sprained my ankle the same way I sprained my ankle before.
  • I hit my arm against the hopper, and got flea bites.
  • That night I done something I shouldn’t-a done and now my back hurts.
  • A gate hit my foot while my back was turned, closing the other side.
  • Customer thought she needed the brakes adjusted. She drove the car into the station, could not stop the car, came through the door and pinned claimant against the cash register.
  • I was removing a blouse for a customer and which time I injured my back.
  • I inherited this occupational disease.
  • Acting on behalf of my employer, I hit another automobile.
  • In order to avoid a person, Betty lost her balance and fell down. In one hand she had a ketchup bottle which broke on impact, cutting her hand. In the other hand she had her thumb.
  • I over asserted myself and got a hernia.
  • The doctor gave me a disease for my occupation and said I must change jobs.
  • Gears smashed thumb while holding air cleaner, while putting nipple on with right hand, while balancing air cleaner with left hand, while holding end with left hand away from right hand. Gears were not covered.
  • I didn’t know water was where I fell.
  • I fell down in the Fotomat booth while dislocating my knee.
  • Sustained back injury due to car accident which is part of his job.
  • Falling off the truck, I dislocated my pelvis and other male organs.
  • I slipped and fell and hurt everything in me.
  • I dropped my head on my foot when someone pushed their guts across the table without calling out (from a slaughterhouse employee).
  • The fumes were so bad I was taken by them and went to bed with the doctor.
  • The guy I work with went ape s4%t. He hauled off and punched me in the jaw and then tried to rip my throat out.
  • Carrying roll roofing, I caught my toe on a piece of tin that was froze in the ground. The tin flipped against me causing me to trip, letting the roofing fall into the bucket of tar. Tar splashed out, burning my arm, and causing me to jump back into the ladder which fell against me, knocking me into the building, breaking my tooth. Thus I burned, bumped, and broke me.

 

  • Written by:
  • Marjorie Segale AFIS, CISC, RPLU, CIC, CRIS, ACSR, CISR
    Director of Education, Insurance Community Center
    & President, Segale Consulting Services, LLC
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