In general, workers are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits in Missouri and Illinois as long as their injury is the direct result of their job. However, many employers and employer insurance companies are quick to note that workers’ compensation will not be granted to workers who are injured on the job if horseplay is involved.

But what exactly is the legal definition of horseplay, and how can the involvement of horseplay have an affect on your workers’ compensation case?

Under most state laws, including Missouri and Illinois law, you do not qualify for workers’ comp if you were engaged in horseplay at the time of the accident. However, insurance companies and employers often try to extend the meaning of horseplay past what it is meant by the law.

Horseplay at work could cost you your Missouri workers' compensation case.Horseplay, or “goofing off,” is generally not accepted in the workplace. Horseplay by definition could lead to injuries or harm to employees, and horseplay does not have anything to do with the tasks at hand. However, if someone is a victim of horseplay and not a participant, then they are eligible for workers’ comp. If the act of horseplay is considered acceptable in the field of work, then you may be eligible for workers’ comp. 

Let’s look at 3 examples of horseplay and workers’ comp claims:

  • A man injured his knee and was at work in an office on crutches. When a co-worker tried to tip him over while on crutches (an act of horseplay), he further injured his knee and applied for workers’ comp. Since he was not the instigator of the horseplay, his injury claim was valid.
  • A restaurant worker kicked his leg into the air several feet from another employee in an act of fun. He slipped on the wet and dangerous floor, injuring his leg and groin. The court ruled that it was not horseplay because the act lasted just a few seconds and was not out of the acceptable and regular scope of behavior for the wait staff at the restaurant.
  • A construction worker attempted to playfully “bump” a co-worker with the rear-view mirror of his truck after his co-worker shook his backside at the man. The worker accidently hit the man with the bed of his truck instead of his mirror. The court decided that the man was indeed engaged in horseplay outside of the regular scope of his job and denied him workers’ compensation.

If you have been denied workers' compensation in Missouri or Illinois because of horseplay, talk to a workers' comp attorney today.