“5 Bizarre Workers’ Comp Claims That Were Actually Successful”

by Walter Olson on February 18, 2013

Worker’s comp is intended to provide relatively liberal coverage in some ways — that goes with the territory of a “no-fault” compensation scheme — but a few of these outcomes might still raise an eyebrow, particularly when it comes to generous definitions of what’s “work-related.” [Cracked] More: Coyote (“Our problem tends to be that we get a whole heck of a lot of “injuries” in the 3-4 hours between when we fire someone and when they leave the property.”)

{ 4 comments }

1 Robert 02.18.13 at 6:24 pm

“Women drinks lye” didn’t seem too crazy. It happened in the workplace. If someone put lye in a drinking cup, it could be a dangerous situation.

We were always warned not to put chemicals in mugs (or coffee in beakers) when working in chemical labs.

2 Walter Olson 02.18.13 at 7:09 pm

Right, that one’s not crazy at all. Listings of bizarre legal cases have a tendency to commingle cases where the fact pattern was bizarre or extreme, but the legal handling was unexceptionable, with others that are the other way round.

3 Max Kennerly 02.18.13 at 8:06 pm

Most of those involved considerable contributory negligence — which is rightly irrelevant to workers’ compensation — but otherwise were plainly work-related. Feeding a bear while high is stupid, but, well, his job was to feed bears and he was at his job feeding bears. Whether he’s high, stupid, or the bears have become unusual aggressive doesn’t matter; he was injured while working.

The drinking lye case is an example where the worker did worse because of workers’ comp: but for workers’ comp, she would have had a beautiful negligence claim against the employer (vicariously certainly, but perhaps direct if there was insufficient training) for whatever fool left out the cup of lye. That’s just a horrible accident waiting to happen.

The one that surprised me was the sex injury on the business trip, which I doubt would qualify here in the US. Seems Australia has a different view, in which workers comp for government workers on business trips acts like a form of travel insurance.

In many ways, when it comes to coverage of Australian workers, it’s a matter of cost allocation more than anything else: if not covered by the insurer, it would have been covered in large part by their government funding of medical care. All we’re talking about is who pays that patient share of the care, not the bulk of the care.

4 MattS 02.19.13 at 2:48 am

Max Kennerly.

“The one that surprised me was the sex injury on the business trip, which I doubt would qualify here in the US.”

No, that would fly here. I remember a case from the US (no cite handy) where some guy decided to take his own motor home a business trip, got totally plastered one night and ended up with frostbite because he passed out outside the motor home because he was too drunk to open the door in freezing weather. He got workers comp.

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