Can You Deny a Workers’ Compensation Claim for Horseplay in California?

June 22, 2021
Sacks & Zolonz, LLP
Workers' Compensation Defense

As an employer, you have a responsibility to keep your workers safe. Some of those tasks include ongoing safety training for employees, ensuring all equipment and machinery are inspected and maintained, and ensuring employees have effective safety equipment. Safety guidelines change depending on the industry, but in large part, it is the duty of the employer to maintain standards.

What if your employee is injured on the job while horseplaying? Are you still responsible for their injuries?

At Sacks & Zolonz, LLP, we believe employers have a right to protect their businesses from raised premiums due to employee injuries for which your company was not liable. Our workers compensation defense attorneys are here to help you exercise your rights. You can contact us by calling 310-216-7778.

What is Horseplay at Work?

The term “horseplay” is considered rough, boisterous play. In regards to horseplay at work, it is engaging in rough or boisterous play as a departure from employment duties for purposes entirely personal.

However, if your employee engages in horseplay which by definition means they deviated from their duties, are you still liable? How is liability affected in a no-fault state like California?

In California’s no-fault system, if a worker is injured by an unexpected or unintended event or due to a violation of a workplace safety rule, they are still eligible to receive workers’ compensation.

However, some court cases over the years have upheld horseplay as a valid reason for denial.

When a maintenance worker for an Atlanta-based railway service company was injured after he and his co-workers created a potato cannon, his workers’ compensation claim was promptly denied. The maintenance worker was struck in the head by shrapnel from the fired potato gun, causing brain injury.

When the maintenance worker sued his employer, the case was dismissed. However, a state appeals court overruled the dismissal and allowed the worker to pursue his claim. As it stands, the case continues to move through the system up to the Georgia Supreme Court. The final court’s decision will have a significant impact on future cases of horseplay in the workplace.

How Can Sacks & Zolonz, LLP Help My Case?

The dedicated attorneys of Sacks & Zolonz, LLP have the knowledge and experience to help you protect your company. If you deny a claim for an employee who has been injured due to roughhousing or horseplay, contact our workers’ compensation defense attorneys today to exercise your rights.

Once a claim is denied, an employee may sue their employer at the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board. This process can prove costly for employers as their employees continue attempts to access benefits. It is crucial to seek counsel as soon as possible.

Contact Sacks & Zolonz, LLP, Your California Workers’ Compensation Defense Attorneys

Every case of horseplay is different. Whether a claim will be denied or granted by the courts will depend heavily on the specific circumstances of the incident. Sacks & Zolonz, LLP have spent decades helping employers protect their businesses, reputations, and financial responsibility. If you believe you are within your rights to deny a workers’ claim due to horseplay, contact our workers’ compensation defense lawyers today to protect those rights. You can contact us for a consultation of your case by clicking here or calling 310-216-7778.

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