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CA Case Explores Award of Additional Benefits to Injured Crane Worker

A recent workers' compensation case before the California Court of Appeals explored the issue of when an employee who suffered a serious work injury is entitled to additional compensation because of the "serious or willful misconduct" of executives or managing officers.

In Bigge Crane & Rigging Co. v. Workers' Compensation Appeals Board, an employee suffered serious work injuries when the boom section (i.e., the arm) of a crane being disassembled fell onto his ankle and lower leg. (The boom section fell because of a lack of support provided by blocks.)

When the accident occurred, both the operator and foreman were otherwise preoccupied, meaning the foreman had been called away from the scene and the operator was overseeing another task.

The injured worker applied for and eventually received additional workers' compensation benefits, citing  "serious or willful misconduct."

Bigge Crane & Rigging Company subsequently pursued an appeal of the award of additional work comp benefits all the way to the California Court of Appeals.

Here, the appellate court found that the injured employee was not entitled to the additional work comp benefits because neither the operator nor the foreman could be properly classified as managing officers or executives.

Specifically, the court found the following:

  • The operator was only a minor supervisory employee not a managing officer. Furthermore, he had no control over a substantial part of Bigge Crane & Rigging Company's business.
  • The foreman was also lacking control over a substantial part of Bigge Crane & Rigging Company's business. However, even if he had such control, his actions did not rise to the level of "serious or willful misconduct."

Accordingly, additional work comp benefits are typically only available where an employee is injured due to the "serious or willful misconduct" of an executive or managing officer.

Stay tuned for further developments in the area of workers' compensation defense ...

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.

Related Resources:

Actions of Crane Operator, Foreman Don't Entitle Worker to Extra Comp (Risk & Insurance)

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