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Can I get workers’ compensation benefits in New Jersey if I fell and was injured at work while engaging in horseplay?

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Answer: The answer to your question depends on the facts and circumstances surrounding your fall accident at work. New Jersey workers’ compensation law provides that if workers are injured while at work, they are entitled to receive workers’ comp benefits such as medical benefits and lost wages. For example, a machine operator who suffers a hand crush injury while operating a machine is entitled to receive workers’ comp benefits, as well as an office employee who slips and falls while walking to a copy machine. However, if workers are injured while engaging in horseplay, the facts surrounding the workplace accidents have to be carefully evaluated to determine whether injured workers are eligible to receive workers’ comp benefits.

New Jersey workers’ compensation law allows workers who are injured during horseplay to receive workers’ compensation if:

  • the employee or worker’s injuries resulted from horseplay or skylarking on the part of a fellow employee,
  • the horseplay or skylarking was not instigated by the injured employee, or the injured worker was not taking part in the horseplay or skylarking.

An example of this type of workplace accident resulting from horseplay may be the following:

Two of your fellow employees are teasing and pushing each other around by the stairway. One of your fellow co-workers loses his balances and knocks into you while you are walking by and causes you to fall down the stairs. As a result of your fall, you are injured and fracture your ankle. In this situation, you are entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits because you did not instigate or take part in the horseplay.

Related: NJ Workers’ Compensation Law – Are You Eligible for Benefits if Injured During Horseplay?

Another situation may be the following:

Your co-worker is teasing you about something and playfully pushes you. You lose your balance and fall. You try to break your fall with your wrist and suffer a hairline fracture in your wrist. In this situation, even though you were part of the horseplay, you may still receive workers’ comp benefits because you did not instigate the horseplay.

A situation where you may not be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits while engaging in horseplay is if the horseplay is a major deviation from work. For example, a construction worker who falls and gets injured because he was dancing around the work site while taking a break may not be compensated if his supervisor told him repeatedly that he should not do that prior to his accident.

Therefore, it is important we discuss the facts of your fall accident resulting from horseplay while at work to determine whether you are eligible to receive workers’ comp benefits.

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