Metro Articles

Worker's Compensation: Stories you should read

Nathan Smith Wednesday, March 10, 2010


A master plumber and foreman, Jesse Cooper, arrived at a construction site for an important meeting. Since the client wasn't going to be available for 45 minutes, he decided to go grab a cup of coffee. On his way there, Cooper was involved in a serious car accident that left him with two broken legs and a broken arm. He was granted disability, but his employer appealed, stating that the errand wasn’t work related. A judge, however, found that it was work related. He ruled that injuries that might occur during a "minor deviation" from work, are covered under certain specific conditions - in this case, the employee worked off site and didn't report to the same location every day.
Cite: Cooper v. Barnickel

Getting Screwed
An intoxicated worker, who had been employed by an industrial manufacturer for over 5 years, had his glove snagged by a screw. It pulled his hand into a large machine leaving him with no choice but to amputate his arm below the elbow. The insurance company denied the claim stating that the accident was caused by his altered state. It was then presented in court that the employee was a highly functioning, life-long alcoholic who had been sufficiently able to operate the machinery without injury for many years. The court ruled that he was coherent and aware in his work environment (even after consuming large amounts of alcohol) and that the protruding screw which had just been put onto the machine was the reason for the accident.

Drop Off Laborer
A common arena for fraud and confusion comes with work comp cases that involve day laborers. Jose, a carpenter working as a day laborer, was lifting heavy tiles on a roof for a residential remodel. After feeling a sharp pain in his back, he reported the injury to his supervisor, who in turn dropped him off at the mall instead of at the doctors. When a friend found him laying on his back at the mall unable to move, he was taken to a hospital where he diagnosied with a serious back injury and advised of his rights to take action against the employer. He won the case, and since the employer didn't have worker's compensation insurance, he was forced to pay out of his own pocket... Ouch!

Interesting Facts

- Number of reported cases of work comp employee fraud by the media last year – 188.
- The number of cases of work comp employer fraud - 44.
- Reported number of cases of carrier fraud – 4.
- Since 2008 and the slumping of the economy, claims activity for homeowners policies has risen 52%, auto claims have risen 45%, and general liability claims have risen 20%.

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