Firefighter's bear hug of coworker constitutes horseplay, nixes benefits
Case name: Kaschub v. Darien-Woodridge Fire Protection District, 20 ILWCLB 100 (Ill. W.C. Comm. 2012).
Ruling: The Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission denied benefits to a firefighter because his injuries did not arise out of his employment. His personal actions voluntarily increased his risk of injury and constituted noncompensable horseplay.
What it means: In Illinois, a worker's injury during an act that constitutes a personal action to which the worker has voluntarily increased his risk of injury or constitutes horseplay does not arise out of the worker's employment.
Summary: A firefighter/paramedic was in a happy and excited mood because he learned that he did not have to work overtime and could attend his scheduled snowmobiling trip. He came up behind a coworker and put his arms around him in a bear hug. The firefighter pinned the coworker's arms to his sides. The coworker was startled and reacted by twisting in an effort to get free. As he twisted, both men fell over and the firefighter was injured. In denying benefits, the workers' compensation arbitrator found the firefighter failed to prove he sustained an accident that arose out of his employment. The commission affirmed and adopted the decision of the arbitrator.
The firefighter did not offer evidence to suggest that his actions were the result of a work-related duty. Also, there was no competent evidence that the injury was caused or related to his work duties or work environment. His accident occurred solely because he gave the coworker a bear hug and startled him. The firefighter's accident was caused by actions personal to him that voluntarily increased his risk of injury or constituted horseplay. Accordingly, his accident was not compensable.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
September 10, 2012
Copyright 2012© LRP Publications