MO Workers Comp: Court of Appeals Affirms Horseplay is NOT Compensable
The Missouri Court of Appeals rendered a decision on June 29, 2017, in the case of Hedrick v. Big O Tires – – concluding that horseplay injuries are NOT compensable.
Claimant was engaging in horseplay when he intentionally set a can of clue on fire. The can exploded and claimant was injured. The focus of the case at the trial and Commission levels was whether the claimant was engaged in horseplay, and if so, whether horseplay injuries compensable.
The claim was denied at both the trial and Commission levels, and claimant appealed to the Court of Appeals – – which has held, for the past 25 years, that horseplay claims ARE compensable.
The Court of Appeals upheld the prior decisions that this claim is NOT compensable. However, the court did not based the decision on whether horseplay injuries are or are not compensable.
Rather, the court noted that proof of a compensable accident required proof of an “unexpected” traumatic event. In this instance, lighting a flammable container was expected or foreseeable to produce wounds and did not meet the definition of accident.
Why this is important. Even without expressly attempting to do so, the Court of Appeals has provided Employers in Missouri the legal basis to challenge all horseplay claims. All horseplay claims should be reviewed in terms of looking for a basis for denial of the claim.
Additionally, the basis for this decision may also open up opportunities to challenge claims arising out of non-horseplay but otherwise questionable activities on the basis of arguing that the accident was not an “unexpected” traumatic event.
If you want to discuss this decision in greater detail, or if you have any specific circumstances to which this decision might apply, please feel free to call or email.