Assisting Clients Across California Since 1993

What you need to know about horseplay and workers’ compensation

When you suffer an on-the-job injury, you’re going to need financial support to get by while you focus on your recovery and getting back to work. That’s why workers’ compensation benefits are so important.

If you can successfully recover these benefits, then you can offset your lost wages and medical expenses, thereby giving yourself significant financial relief in trying times.

That said, a workers’ compensation claim isn’t always compensable. Although you don’t have to show that your employer was negligent in order to recover the benefits that you need, your employer and its insurance company will certainly try to place the blame on you if they can.

Why do insurance companies try to blame you for your workplace injury? Simply put, if you’re to blame, then the insurance company doesn’t have to pay you workers’ compensation benefits. This is often seen in instances of horseplay.

What is horseplay in the workers’ compensation context?

Horseplay occurs when you deviate from your job duties to the extent that your actions are purely for personal purposes. For example, wrestling with a co-worker in the breakroom is likely outside the scope of your employment and has no value to your employer. Therefore, it would likely be considered horseplay, and any injuries that you suffer as a result would be non-compensable.

There are many examples of horseplay, too. This includes:

  • Using a hand to try to stop a rotating ceiling fan
  • Jumping from a high position despite there being a safe path to the ground
  • Throwing tools at co-workers in a playful fashion
  • Improperly riding on a piece of work equipment for fun
  • Blowing an air horn in a co-worker’s ear in an attempt to be funny

Any of these instances can lead to serious injuries, but in most, if not all, instances, they won’t be compensable through the workers’ compensation system.

What are the limits of horseplay?

Generally speaking, you won’t be allowed to recover workers’ compensation benefits if you instigated or otherwise took part in the horseplay, thereby resulting in your injuries. However, if you were an innocent bystander who was injured by workers who engaged in horseplay, then you have an argument for workers’ compensation benefits.

Protect yourself from allegations of horseplay in your workers’ compensation case

Allegations of horseplay can quickly derail your workers’ compensation case. To prevent that from happening to you, you can do each of the following:

  • Avoid engaging in risky and dangerous behaviors at work that fall outside of your job duties.
  • Secure witnesses who can attest to your lack of involvement in the incident in question.
  • Obtain video footage if your workplace was being monitored at the time of the accident.
  • Carefully consider if you can make a valid argument that your actions at the time of the incident were tied to your employment.

Depending on the facts of your case, you might have to get creative with your arguments. But don’t simply give up hope if you’re injuries were caused by questionable acts in the workplace.

Fight to protect your right to workers’ compensation

You need workers’ compensation benefits to secure financial stability during your recovery. That’s why you need to find aggressive ways to pursue your claim. That may not be easy to do under the circumstances, but it also isn’t a process that you have to navigate on your own.