Should worker’s compensation insurance cover injuries sustained from employee pranks in the workplace? The insurance aftermath of workplace shenanigans is an important issue that arises frequently in the complicated world of workers’ comp insurance. In a recent article from Business Insurance, Roberto Ceniceros discusses several recent legal cases involving what the insurance industry calls the “horseplay doctrine.”
According to a recent ruling in Virginia, the court found for the first time that under the horseplay doctrine an innocent victim of on-the-job horseplay should be entitled to worker’s comp benefits.
Under the “horseplay doctrine” a restaurant server injured by co-workers who threw ice at him is entitled to workers compensation benefits, Virginia’s Supreme Court has ruled.
The ruling last week in Matthew Edward Simms vs. Ruby Tuesday Inc. et al. is the first time Virginia’s high court has addressed the horseplay doctrine, which says an innocent victim of on-the-job horseplay is entitled to workers comp benefits, court records show.
Mr. Simms suffered a dislocated shoulder when he lifted his left arm to protect himself from pieces of ice thrown by co-workers, court records state.
A deputy workers comp commissioner concluded that Mr. Simms was entitled to temporary total disability. However, prior to his injury at work, Mr. Simms had dislocated his shoulder several times, so the deputy commissioner also found that the surgery Mr. Simms underwent later was not related to his work injury.
The issue of horseplay related injuries has arisen in several states in recent years. According to the Business Insurance article, an Iowa court decided a year ago to treat the issue differently then the Virginia court, ruling that an injured worker “must prove his injury was not a result of horseplay in order to receive workers comp benefits.”
Maybe this will make co-workers everywhere think twice before pulling an “innocent prank” on their coworkers.