Injury from cow's topple is compensable; laborer not farm worker
Case name: Calcar Quarries v. Bledsoe, No. 93A02-1004-EX-397 (Ind. Ct. App. 09/22/10).
Ruling: The Indiana Court of Appeals held that a laborer was entitled to compensation for his injury.
What it means:
In Indiana, an employee may work in a dual capacity for the same employer and be covered by workers' compensation while engaged in one capacity and excluded from benefits while engaged in the other.
Summary: A laborer worked at a quarry. Occasionally, he would be directed to work at a farm owned by the quarry or at the owner's residence. When he worked elsewhere, he usually performed maintenance work and was paid at the same rate as he earned while working at the quarry. One day, the laborer was sent to work at the farm moving cattle from the barn to a chute for tagging. A coworker used a shocker on one of the cows and the laborer injured his shoulder when the cow fell on him. The Indiana Court of Appeals held that the laborer was entitled to benefits.
Indiana law prevents farm or agricultural workers from receiving workers' compensation for work-related injuries. Whether a worker is an agricultural employee must be determined from the character of the work performed. An employee may work in a dual capacity for the same employer. The court decided that the laborer did not work in a dual capacity because he was hired and paid to work in the quarry. He only occasionally worked with cattle.
The court noted that although the laborer had a preexisting shoulder condition, he was treated in the emergency room after the incident and sought follow-up care.
The laborer argued that he was entitled to a 10 percent increase in his award since his award was affirmed on appeal. The court increased the award by 5 percent, reasoning that the appeal was not pursued in bad faith and it did not result in an extensive delay in benefits. The court also declined to award damages and attorney's fees to the laborer.
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December 23, 2010
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