Having friends at work is a good thing. Companionship can make the time go by faster and more pleasantly. We all have co-workers we look forward to talking to and joking around while working.
But sometimes, kidding around goes too far, and somebody gets seriously hurt. If that ever happens to you, you might wonder if you qualify for workers’ compensation under New Jersey law. You were hurt at work, but it wasn’t exactly a work-related injury. Should you still file a workers’ comp claim?
Injured during horseplay
In New Jersey, an employee is entitled to workers’ comp benefits when their injury or illness was suffered in the course of their work duties. Thus, as long as you are doing your job, how you get hurt is not necessarily relevant. You may be eligible for benefits if a co-worker accidentally hurt you, say, as part of a prank or while playing a game with other people nearby. Such conduct is called horseplay or skylarking. As long as you did not initiate or take part in the horseplay, you likely have a strong claim for workers’ compensation.
For example, say a group of co-workers are playing touch football in the hallway and one of the players runs into you and knocks you to the floor, injuring your back. If you were playing in the game, you probably wouldn’t get approved for workers’ comp. But if you just happened to be passing by while walking to your work station, your claim would be much stronger.
Seeking the workers’ comp you deserve
However you were hurt at work, your claim could get denied, or your employer could pressure you to accept a lowball settlement offer. You deserve the maximum workers’ comp available based on the nature and severity of your injury. Fortunately, you can appeal a rejected claim.