Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation – Horsing Around & Goofing Off


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In general, workers are protected from on the job and work related accidents and injuries, even when caused by a worker’s own negligence or carelessness. In most cases of horsing around or otherwise goofing off at work, the injured worker will likely be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. For example, a construction worker who is injured when several workers throw work related objects to each other will still probably be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

However, eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits in Pennsylvania may involve complex legal issues. For example, a worker who is injured due to horsing around or goofing off may be deemed ineligible for benefits. Pennsylvania courts require specific evidence in order to deny workers’ compensation benefits to workers who are injured due to horsing around.

Related: Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation – What if the Employee was at Fault for Causing the Accident?

When a work accident occurs due to horsing around or goofing off, the employer bears the burden of proving three very specific elements in order to get out of paying workers’ compensation benefits.

1. The accident/injury was caused by violating the employer’s order/command. The horseplay must be the legal cause of the accident/injuries. For example, a worker is horsing around on a construction site, but is injured due to the employer’s failure to provide a safe environment. The worker’s horseplay may not be the legal cause of the accident, and therefore, he may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

2. The worker knew about the order/command. The employer via a manager or supervisor must have told the worker to cease the activity prior to the accident. If there is no evidence that the employer notified the worker to cease the activity, the worker would be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

3. The order/command related to an activity not connected with the worker’s usual work duties. This is perhaps, one of the most litigated issues when it comes to work accidents caused by horseplay. Whether something is connected to a worker’s usual work activities depends on the facts and circumstances of the case. The duties of an office worker will obviously differ from those of a construction worker.


Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Accident Lawyer

The Philadelphia law firm of LBK represents workers who are injured on the job. Our work accident lawyers specialize in handling negligence cases against third parties and may handle workers’ compensation cases. Depending on the facts of a given work accident case, the firm may refer the workers’ compensation case to another law firm. Please call the firm for a free consultation. Click To Call

Jeff Laffey is passionate about workers’ rights and accident safety. Learn about his 2012 workplace safety presentation to union members in Philadelphia.

Disclaimer: The lawyers at LBK provide legal advice to individuals after accepting their case. No attorney-client relationship is created by this website. Nothing on this site is intended to provide legal advice. Because every case is unique, discussion of prior outcomes and settlements in past cases is no guarantee of a similar outcome in current or future cases.