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Horsing around at work could have much larger consequences

| Sep 27, 2019 | Workplace Injuries

As the common saying goes, if individuals enjoy their job, they never work a day in their life. While it is good for Marylanders to find careers they enjoy, employees should ensure that they do not get carried away and engage in risky horseplay.

Many workplace policies directly state that they do not allow horseplay in the workplace. But violating company policy is not the only risk involved in horseplay. Pranks or roughhousing on the job can significantly increase the chance of suffering an injury at work. And injuries resulting from these actions are not covered under workers’ compensation.

An injury at work does not make it work-related

Many people might think that any work-related injury could entitle them to collect workers’ compensation. However, injuries are only work-related if they arise out of the course of employment. This essentially means that injuries are only covered if it happened while:

  1. The individual was at work
  2. The individual was performing their work duties

Horseplay might happen at work. But it rarely happens while employees are actually working.

What is considered horseplay?

Horseplay usually involves unsafe and reckless playing or pranks. This rough play often means physical contact and exertion that increases the risk of injuries.

And employers, insurers and the Workers’ Compensation Commission consider a few factors to separate other work injuries from horseplay injuries. These variables include: 

  • Determining what the company policy states
  • Proving the employee knew the policy, but still engaged in horseplay
  • Providing proof that the employee understood the risk of injury
  • Verifying that this individual’s injury resulted from their disregard of the rule

What if you did not participate in horseplay?

If workers suffer injuries while engaging in reckless horseplay at work, they often are not entitled to compensation. But what about other employees who were not involved?

Unfortunately, the recklessness of others often puts bystanders at risk of an injury as well. But injured individuals who did not engage in horseplay might be able to apply for workers’ compensation. Maryland workers’ compensation law includes “willful or negligent acts” by others in the definition of covered work injuries (Maryland Code, Labor & Employment §9-101).

The law may cover these injured employees. However, work injuries resulting from another’s horseplay can be difficult to prove. It is beneficial for employees in these situations to retain an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to recover their benefits.

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