8 of the Most Unusual Workers’ Comp Cases
Personal injury blog
Bizarre workman’s compensation cases from around the United States
No one anticipates a workers’ compensation case, but they are a fairly common occurrence. Usually, a workers’ comp case involves an employee who was injured while doing their designated job, but sometimes the unusual happens.
The severity of a workers’ compensation case can range from a simple scratch or bruise to a broken bone to even death. While no injury is a laughing matter, sometimes a bizarre occurrence makes for a good story when the dust settles.
We have compiled a list of some of the most unusual workers’ compensation cases we have ever heard to give our readers an idea of how unexpected situations may be deemed a legal matter worthy of compensation.
Here are 8 unexpected workers’ comp cases that won in court
Man’s Hip Broken on Vending Machine
90-year-old Circuit City employee, Clinton Dwyer, filed a workers’ comp claim after he fractured his hip at work.
Dwyer claimed he was trying to shake a bag of chips loose from an employee break room vending machine when he fractured his hip. He was supposedly getting the chips for a female co-worker. An arbitrator ruled in his favor because he was “injured while coming to the aid of a co-worker seeking personal comfort.”
Woman Accidentally Drinks Lye
Arby’s employee, Laura McRae, mistakenly drank from the wrong cup while on her break. For some reason, there was a cup containing lye in the break room which caused third-degree burns to her esophagus.
Manager Saves French Fries, But Hurts Neck
McDonald’s manager received an award of worker’s comp benefits after she injured her neck catching a bag of french fries.
The manager testified that she felt a pop in her neck followed by a burning sensation when she quickly bent to catch a bag of french fries before they hit the floor. Normally, bending over at work is not a sufficient claim for compensation. In this case though, the court insisted that to catch the fries the manager had to bend, twist, and jerk quickly. She was under pressure to serve drive-through customers quickly and not waste food, which caused her to impulsively bend, twist, and jerk when the fries were falling.
Lull in Workday Causes Horseplay Injury
A construction worker broke his leg when he tried to jump a trench during a lull in the workday.
The man claimed that, during a hot day, several of his co-workers moved to an air-conditioned truck to cool off during a lull in work. One of his co-workers told him someone on the other side of the work site needed to talk to him, to trick him and take his spot in the air-conditioned truck. When the claimant realized he was tricked, he jumped over a trench to run back to the truck. When he landed he broke his leg. The Supreme Court of South Dakota awarded him workers’ comp benefits.
Pizza Delivery Man Sustains Injuries in Altercation with Panhandler
A pizza delivery man sustained a punctured lung after he became involved in a fight with a panhandler.
The Iowa deliverer had finished his deliveries and returned to the pizza shop at the same time that a panhandler was being chased out of the pizza establishment by employees. He became involved in the fight and sustained a punctured lung. The employer tried to content the injuries occurred outside of the pizza establishment. The appellate court, however, ruled that the employee suffered the injuries during employment.
$4.3 million Workers Comp Award
Larry W. Holland, was awarded $4.3 million in a workers’ comp retaliation lawsuit because his employee failed to modify his duties after an injury that occurred on the job. The employer then tried to terminate his job while he was out on medical leave.
Holland was a facility supervisor for Schwan’s Home Service Inc. in West Frankfort, IL. He injured his back at work when he slipped on ice unloading goods into a Schwan’s freezer. After some time, his doctor told him he could return to working, but only under certain restrictions, including no prolonged standing or heavy lifting. When he returned to working his job duties did not change, despite his doctor’s restrictions. He continued to stand for long periods of time and lift heavy goods.
Holland’s back injury worsened, and his doctor informed him to stop working for a month and go to physical therapy. Right before he was to return to full-time employment, he received a letter from Schwan’s saying that his position was set to be eliminated.
Schwan gave Holland 30 days unpaid to find a new job within the company or be completely terminated. He was also told not to return to work until he had been accepted for another job within the company. Schwan claims that they created a material handler job, specifically for Holland, but Holland was not formally made aware of the position which prevented him from accepting it. He was then terminated and sued Schwan’s for retaliatory discharge. Eventually, Holland received an award of $4.3 million.
Woman Trips Over Her Dog at Home, but was in a Work Environment
J.C. Penney employee, Mary Sandberg, was walking to her garage when she tripped over her dog and broke her wrist.
Sandberg was a decorator for J.C. Penney and claimed she was going out to her garage to get fabric samples when she tripped over her dog. Since she was retrieving work materials that she was temporarily storing in her garage, it made her home her “work environment.” She was awarded compensation for the injury.
The importance of workers’ compensation
All joking aside, all injuries are serious. We wish every employer treated their employees as they would want to be treated after a workplace injury, but we know that is not the case. If you or someone you know has been injured on the job contact the St. Louis workman’s compensation attorneys at McChesney & Ortwerth for a free consultation.