Risks Caused by the Employee in Louisiana Workers Compensation

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Certain work-related risks are considered to "arise out of the employment” and are within the “scope of employment," and therefore covered under Louisiana workers compensation.

However, if a work-related risk does not "arise out of the employment” and thus is not within the “scope of employment," then this risk (and any injuries resulting from the risk) will not be covered under Louisiana workers compensation.

Horseplay 

Louisiana law holds that if the injured employee “was engaged in horseplay at the time of the injury,” then his or her injury “should not be considered as having arisen out of the employment,” and therefore is not covered by workers compensation.

In other words, if an employee is injured while engaged in horseplay, then this employee's injuries will not be covered by workers compensation in Louisiana.

Also, Louisiana law requires the employee to demonstrate that he or she was not engaged in “horseplay” as a part of proving his or her case that the injury arose out of the employment (or was within the scope of the employment).  So if the employer says that the employee was injured while involved in horseplay (and is thus not covered by workers compensation), then the employee must prove that he or she was not involved in horseplay.

Interestingly enough, there is no specific legal definition in Louisiana of exactly what horseplay is.  In fact, the word horseplay is basically slang. Perhaps the courts just figure that we know it when we see it. But all the more reason to have a skilled experienced workers compensation attorney argue on behalf of the injured employee.

Course and Scope of Horseplay

Horseplay often occurs during prolonged “stand-by” periods.

But, on the other hand, the rough play may occur during a prolonged period when the employee has withdrawn from their employment for their own pleasure, perhaps in disobedience of orders. In such a situation, the employee might be regarded as suffering injury outside the course of his employment and recovery could be denied for that reason.

Also, sometimes the victim of horseplay is not a participant in the game (or horseplay); and if the employee is performing his or her job at the time of the injury, then the accident will occur during the course of employment. 

But, if the employee gets in an accident because of his or her willful intention to injure himself or to injure another, then the employee will not be covered by workers compensation under Louisiana law.  

Yet ordinary horseplay is generally carried out in a spirit of fun, and is not more serious misconduct as is a willful intention to injure.

An employee who fails to perform his or her job duties and instead engages in activities for his or her own pleasure for an unreasonable time (or in violation of orders) is typically regarded as outside the course of his employment.

But should workers compensation should be denied solely because the risk of accident was created by the employee for his convenience or entertainment (and hence did not arise out of his employment)?

So long as the accident happened while the employee was actively at work, or was standing by or enjoying a permissible rest period, the employee will not usually be denied workers compensation benefits just because the risk was the result of conduct involving the employee's personal pleasure.

Importantly, an employee's simple carelessness is not a bar to his claim for compensation.

The employee should not be denied workers compensation benefits, whether the risk was at least partially attributable to the conditions of the employment, or the risk was created entirely for the employee's own purposes, so long as the accident clearly happened during the course of the employment.

Also, an employee who is injured at a time when the employee is acting in direct response to the employee's (or supervisor's) orders should should be covered under Louisiana workers compensation, and therefore receive workers compensation benefits.

But if an employee who is injured because of risks that have nothing to do with the employment, then workers compensation will likely not cover this employee. This includes risks which the worker has created for his own pleasure or convenience.

An employee who is a victim of epilepsy, fainting spells, lapses of memory, or some other similar affliction may be more prone to accident than a normal employee.

But do risks which are attributable to such afflictions arise out of the employment?  The short answer is yes.

So long as the accident happened while the employee was actively at work, or was standing by or enjoying a permissible rest period, the employee will not usually be denied workers compensation benefits just because the risk was the result of a physical peculiarity of the employee, such as epilepsy, fainting spells, lapses of memory, or some other similar affliction.

An accident which would otherwise be covered by workers compensation does not cease to arise out of the employment because it can be attributed in part to a physical infirmity of the employee.  Such an accident will be covered by workers compensation in Louisiana.

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