Many of us have been to company sponsored events, such as picnics, games, sporting events, and more, throughout our careers. Some events are more physical than others, but all involve the fact that they are work related. So, when an employee gets hurt at a work-related event, are they entitled to workers’ compensation for their injuries?
The South Carolina Supreme Court says yes, employees are entitled to workers’ compensation after a case involving a company kickball game. Stephen Whigham shattered both his fibula and tibia during a kickball game that was at a company-sponsored event. Whigham’s boss approved the event, part of a team building exercise, after he and Whigham had met with a marketing firm that discussed the importance of team-building. During a kickball game at the event, Whigham was hurt and taken to the hospital in an ambulance. On top of the shattered bones, he also will require a knee replacement (according to the court’s ruling).
A lower court had ruled that Whigham was not entitled to benefits under workers’ compensation laws, but the South Carolina Supreme Court reversed that decision. According to the SC Supreme Court, they cited that the testimony from Whigham’s boss helped them to make their ruling. Whigham’s boss had said at a hearing that if Whigham had not attended the game it would have been “unexpected and unbelievable”. He also said “I mean, you don’t just plan something and then not show up for it.” However, one judge did disagree, stating that Whigham had even testified that it was no mandatory that he attend the game quoting him as saying “There was never an ultimatum given to anybody,”.
The SC Supreme Court has requested a hearing for benefits in the case.
Of course, this leaves the door open for other cases in and around the United States when it comes to workers’ compensation for events not on the job. What do you think about this ruling? Do you think that you should be allowed workers’ compensation if you are hurt at a company event? If you have been hurt on the job or have a workplace injury that is costing you more than just working hours, call us today at (918) 582-2500. With over 30 years of experience with workers’ compensation in Oklahoma, we will fight to get what you deserve.
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